Artist Evelyn Dunbar: A moment of respite for Homeland staff and residents


Look closely at Evelyn Dunbar’s paintings, and you might find “a little gift” – a tiny fairy worked into the scene or a little light.

“That’s for my mom,” said Evelyn, also known as Evo. “She was my biggest fan. She always encouraged me and was so devoted.”

Evo is Homeland’s featured artist for Spring 2024, showing her works in the sunny gallery of the Florida Room. Every three months, Homeland exhibits the work of a local artist, arranged through the Art Association of Harrisburg’s Community Gallery Initiative. The exhibits give residents, staff, and visitors a moment to pause and bask in the beauty of nature and people as seen through the eyes of the region’s most talented artists.

Evo knows the power of art to bring peace to a fast-paced setting. She is a retired emergency department nurse who remembers stopping to view the art displayed at a hospital where she worked, “even on the busiest days.”

“I was happy to come to Homeland,” she said. “What better place for my work than someplace where I have done service? I know how people who work and live here can be transported. I remember how I was transported by seeing somebody’s paintings.”

Like many of Homeland’s residents, Evo tells a life story of resilience and service. She began drawing as a child and once chalked a “Star Wars” mural in her bedroom. The second of seven children of hardworking parents, she grew up in Puerto Rico, graduated from high school with honors, and studied theoretical physics in college.

Evo entered the U.S. Army Reserves to help pay for her education and loved it so much that she dedicated her time to the military. She and her husband met while they were both in the Army, and Evo was deployed only a few months after her first child was born.

Her husband left college to care for their son. Evo came home as a combat veteran to a baby who didn’t recognize his mom. To cope with her PTSD, she built walls around her life, returning to school to study nuclear medicine and nursing. She worked in “several wonderful places” until 2020 when her granddaughter was born with the debilitating genetic condition known as Edwards Syndrome, which causes physical growth delays during fetal development.

When the baby died at only a few weeks old, “it just broke me,” Evo said. “Every wall I had built after the war just came plummeting down. After that, I used painting as therapy. I would lose myself in my room and paint for hours.”

Evo said she sees colors everywhere and translates them to the canvas. Many of her paintings reflect her husband’s love of diving and their shared joy in hiking scenic trails, “where you find yourself transported to a magical place.” Other works project a magical realism, where mermaids frolic, or a cliff transforms into a woman’s face.

Her hikers and kayakers blend in with the scenery, becoming one with nature. One painting, “The Journey,” depicts a canoeist flanked by water, trees, mountains, and sky.

“When you kayak and canoe, there’s a calmness,” Evo said. “You have to stop in the middle of it. There are no sounds but nature — just the birds and water. There’s so much calmness.”

Evo lives in Frenchville, Clearview County, and she and her husband travel and enjoy time with their eight grandchildren. You can see her paintings and photographs at

At ArtsFest in Harrisburg, May 25-27, 2024, she plans to bring her fantastical paintings custom-matted to match and set in repurposed antique frames.

For the Homeland Center showing, Evo brought some of her more serene pieces, including landscapes, dragonflies, and depictions of the Victorian-era women she envisions in historic settings she has visited. While hanging her works, Homeland Center staff and residents stopped to look and admire, just as she hoped.

“I’m delighted to be part of Homeland, and I hope they can enjoy the paintings I have brought,” she said.

Homeland Center ( offers levels of care including personal care, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Homeland also provides hospice, home care, home health and palliative care services to serve the diverse and changing needs of families throughout central Pennsylvania. For more information or to arrange a tour, please call 717-221-7900.