Artist finds voice through paintings

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Verla Collier was born with autism. As she grew older, she didn’t talk much. She didn’t interact with the other children and the other children were mean to her because they didn’t understand.

“They teased and taunted her, sometimes you can call it horse play but sometimes horseplay becomes violent,” said Verla’s mother, Michelle Collier. “She became a victim of being bullied all through school and… it was very hard. Hard, hard times for her.”

Now a college student, Verla has found her voice. These days she lets her voice be heard through her paintings.

“I would draw a picture of a woman like with bruises or something to show the affliction that was kind of pointed towards me in a sense,” Verla told 6 News. “Sometimes I don’t understand why I don’t understand. Why people treat me the way they do but I try to handle it the best I can."

With the help of a loving and supportive family, Verla handled it by graduating from high school and making the dean’s list in college. Now Verla’s work is on display at The Great Plains Black History Museum. Verla hopes to help others understand autism through her paintings. She plans to be an art therapist.

“I noticed like now that there is a bigger community for autistic people. In a sense, they’re starting to learn more. They’re starting to learn a little bit more about people in the spectrum and how they act,” she said.

Now that Verla has found her voice, she plans to continue to help others to see autism through her eyes.

Verla’s art work will be on display at The Great Plains Black History Museum through this month.