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Melissa Alvey

NorCATA was introduced to Melissa Alvey when she selflessly volunteered her time, talent, and winter break from NYU’s Graduate Art Therapy Program to help with our Healing Arts Festival for Camp Fire victims in Paradise, CA.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, her own multicultural heritage and experiences abroad influenced her endeavors to serve communities that have experienced violent conflict.  Melissa received a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from UC Davis, but it was only after healing from a nerve complication that she discovered and began to learn about art therapy. 

Before starting her studies at NYU, Melissa was an artist-in-residence at Backwater Arts and Gallery in San Jose, CA. There she had the privilege to showcase her work, including the multi-piece watercolor installation “40 Dawns & 40 Dusks” that chronicled her process healing from CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) through a meditation on daily deaths and resurrections.

As an art therapy graduate student, Melissa has had the opportunity to work as an art therapy intern serving geriatric populations, children and families in inpatient pediatric hospital settings, children from immigrant families, and adult individuals who have experienced torture and human rights abuses.

Enjoying collaborative and multidisciplinary settings, she has had the privilege to work alongside other artists as well as creative art therapists. Over the past year she has contributed to organizing and presenting at biannual CAT (Creative Art Therapies) Day events at NYU. Much of her current artwork has been an exploration of the Romantic poets’ concept “negative capability”—or in her words, “the capacity to embrace the unknown in search of beauty or truth.”

Her artwork can be viewed at her website,, and her book, “40 Dawns & 40 Dusks,” can be purchased through the Works of MacDonald website.

She was also interviewed by Hope Brooklyn on her book “40 Dawns & 40 Dusks.” The podcast explores her artistic process reconciling her experience of pain with faith through the hope in resurrections. 

We thank Melissa for her compassion and hard work in California during the wildfire disaster. We look forward to learning about her future professional endeavors.

NorCATA's feature: ​"Art Therapists Making Things Happen", was  envisioned by Robin Valicenti, and is currently curated by Abby ZimbergMelissa Alvey was featured in Spring 2019. 

 Please contact Abby if you know of a Northern Californian Art Therapist whose art and projects deserve mention in this space.

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San Francisco, CA  94146-0661 USA


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NorCATA is approved by the Internal Revenue Services as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that promotes the therapeutic use of art throughout Northern California, public awareness of art therapy, professional development through educational events, workshops, conferences, and more.  All donations are tax deductible to the full extent provided by law.

NorCATA does not and shall not discriminate, or allow discrimination against any person because of race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion or creed, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, military status, physical disability, medical condition, or special needs, in any of its activities or operations. Following the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), NorCATA is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone.

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