Tayla Cormier ‘20 M.S. ’21, has had a successful studio art career during her time at Clark; her work has been displayed in the Traina Center and at ArtsWorcester, and she’s even been commissioned to create original pieces through her Etsy shop. And she did all of this while working toward a bachelor’s — and, this year, an accelerated master’s — in biology.
While her academic interests lie in the scientific, her passion for the artistic led her to pursue a minor in studio art. One of her pieces “I Created This World,” caught the eye of former President David Angel, who selected it as part of the President’s Emerging Artist Series. This work is currently on display in the Rare Book Room of Goddard Library.
At the beginning of 2021, another of Cormier’s works, “It’s Just a Skull,” was awarded the Juror’s prize at ArtsWorcester’s Annual College Show. Her art also earned prizes at the 2020 and 2019 shows. In 2017, her work was featured in Artopia, a pop-up gallery hosted by the band Twenty One Pilots.
What is the inspiration for “I Created This World,” the piece on display in the Rare Book Room?
The piece was inspired by the Twenty One Pilots song, “Bandito.” Music is the root of a great deal of my art, and I tend to be moved by anything that holds strong emotion, which often stems from certain lyrics, poetry, and sounds — my art is more or less a visual representation of emotion. I often embed symbols and metaphors into my work as well, with the hope that the viewer will glean some meaning from it regardless of their interpretation. My goal as an artist is to communicate feeling through my work, whether that’s hope, sadness, desperation, or a range of other strong emotions.
Could you tell me a little bit about your experience at Clark, and what led you to pursue a master’s degree here?
I chose to pursue a biology major with a bioinformatics concentration here at Clark, and I always intended to enroll in the Accelerated Degree Program to get my M.S. degree. Clark provided me with ample opportunities for undergraduate research experience, nd continuing on to my master of science in biology was a natural extension of that — I can further my undergrad research and synthesize it into a master’s thesis.
As an undergrad, I also decided to pursue a studio art minor. I have been passionate about art since childhood, and after taking a few art classes, I decided to add the minor to my coursework. My art classes were a way to push me out of my comfort zone by challenging me to try new materials and testing my creativity.
What do you plan to do after you finish your graduate work and receive your master’s? graduation?
After graduation, I plan to work in the biotech industry, hopefully in a lab-based position. Art will always be a side project of mine, and I’m hoping that once I have a steady income, I’ll be able to invest in getting an artist’s website up and fund my artistic interests more easily.
Do you see connections between your undergraduate work in biology and your studio art minor?
While there’s not a direct connection because I don’t particularly enjoy drawing scientific images, I do notice a similarity in how I approach both biology and studio art. I have the same level of focus and drive within both disciplines. When I have my heart and mind set on an idea of what could be, I always do my best to make it a reality. That outlook applies to everything from testing a hypothesis to creating a work of art that once existed as a vague idea in my head.
Have specific skills from studying biology helped you become a better artist?
It’s the other way around! I have been creating art far longer than I’ve been studying biology, so much so that I consider myself half artist, half scientist. I think my ability to focus and follow through on a project developed from a young age as I tried to become a better artist. That skill has propelled me to become a better student and scientist as well.
View more of Cormier’s artwork on her Instagram.