Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism hosts fourth annual art gallery

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UVU’s Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism kicked off their annual Super Spectrum Showcase and Soiree with a new, online spin this year. The gallery, which offers individuals on the autism spectrum the opportunity to present their artwork, will be hosted via webpage this year. 

A “surprise blessing” said Laurie Bowen, associate director at the university’s Center for Autism. The online aspect present this year has added a certain amount of accessibility to the gallery. According to Bowen, the show is typically viewed by 100-150 people; however, the online gallery has already been viewed by over 400 people this year. 

“People love the show, we have several dedicated families that come every time we do the show and submit their art,” Bowen said. 

The support of the gallery and Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism does not stop at the families with students directly involved. In fact, UVU offers a wide variety of unique support for its students with intellectual disabilities and recently accepted a $1.9 million dollar grant to go toward educational programs for these students. Public support is apparent as well, as the entirety of the autism program at UVU is funded by private donations. 

One in 58 children in Utah is diagnosed with autism, and the efforts at UVU to create a supportive and understanding community have not gone unnoticed. 

“We’re striving all the time to create and to recognize that everyone belongs,” Bowen said, concluding that the Center for Autism aims to not only provide opportunities like the art show for its students but also educational opportunities for others on campus as well. Bowen’s hope with the gallery and that of the center overall is to show everyone the “foundational levels where we’re all the same. Where we have similarities rather than differences.” 

The art gallery is certainly one step toward this goal-offering crucial outlets for those whose artwork is displayed and the opportunity for education and understanding for those on the outside looking in. 

Those interested in viewing this years gallery can do so here.