Christian Spencer

Commencement: Fall 2014, Ceremony 6

Degree: Bachelor’s of Fine Arts

Graduate of: College of Architecture + The Arts

Christian Spencer has earned the respect and admiration of faculty and peers through his courageous investigation into his own autism. He used art to illustrate his experiences and the ways in which autism spectrum disorder is perceived and misunderstood by society in general.

This intensely personal project has encouraged others to reexamine their own biases and prejudices about people with autism, and has opened up a dialogue about how we understand ourselves in relation to others.

In one telling self-portrait, Christian drew himself with a force around his body that appears to be pushing others away. This, he explained, showed him “scaring off” those with whom he wished to be friends.

At FIU, Christian found acceptance from his fellow classmates and experienced positive personal change. “I feel like I made a really strong bond,” he says. “I feel like I found a good circle of friends.”

He has also grown as an artist, something he attributes to the help of his professors. He mentions specifically Gretchen Scharnagl, who helped him draw what he thought might otherwise be impossible, and Michael Namkung, who taught him to think as an artist.

Christian’s accomplishments as an emerging artist have been lauded and recognized by the department faculty as a whole, having been voted in the top BFA students of his class in the Spring of 2014. Once unsure how far he could make it in life, Christian now hopes to find an internship in animation or digital media and believes that graduate school could be in his future.