One day recently, while Laguna artist Fitz Maurice was in attendance at her weekly church service, she said a vibrant image suddenly appeared to her.
"I could see a bottom of blue and lots of color, but I didn't understand what it was or its significance," she said.
About a month later, the award-winning painter — whose credentials include the New York Unisphere Award (2009) and Jackson Pollock-Lee Krasner Award (2002) — was commissioned by the Art Miles Mural Project to contribute a segment of its 9/11 Tribute Mural, which will make a national tour before being presented at Ground Zero in September on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack.
"At that moment, I knew why I was shown this image that day," the New York City native said.
Based in San Diego, the Art Miles Mural Project is an international nonprofit that aims to create global harmony through art, one mural at a time.
As Maurice aims to create the same, one painting at a time, she was elated to be a part of the project.
She calls the high-voltage conceptual piece a spiritual "transformer," one that's representative of the heavens opening up and shooting beams of light and inviting the viewer to step into the center and be transformed from earth to the heavens.
Titled "Triumph," Maurice said the mural carries the message that we, as a nation, must triumph over evil and move past the fear and doubt, which the events of 9/11 instilled in us.
"Ten years later, Americans must get over this and come together in unity and strength," she said.
An unveiling of the 12-by-5-foot mural will take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday at 1200 S. Coast Hwy. Attendees will have the opportunity to view the finished work for the first time, enjoy hors d'oeuvres and beverages and meet with the artist.
Three of Maurice's 100-piece limited edition nature prints will also be available for purchase at the event, including "Abundance," a collage of colorful flowers, and "The Source," inspired by the scenery of Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Known for her signature technique in which she builds veils of dense color on top of each other with gouache — a water base paint that has stronger pigment than watercolors — Maurice said her work is inspired mostly by world travels and nature.
Many of her paintings, which depict images of Europe, America's great parks and California's cities, are meant to uplift the spirits of people who need nature around them.
"My work honors land, sea and air — the great gifts that God gave us," she said. "Through art, I hope to promote world peace through tolerance and love for thy neighbor.
"I believe my paintbrush is God's sword, and if I let go of control of my hands, he'll lead me to paint whatever image he wants me to portray."
For more information about the artist, or for a list of galleries, visit http://www.fitzmauriceart.com.