My 2020 Grad Story: Motivation

TMCC Student Krista Gayer in front of a display of her artwork.
Rebecca A. Eckland

This semester, TMCC is celebrating our graduating class of 2020 in a big way. Even though we have postponed our commencement ceremony until the Fall, we are so proud of our graduates who will still earn their degrees when the spring semester ends on May 16.  

These news stories demonstrate how our graduates have faced challenges and persevered to complete their degree program. Each student was asked to provide one word for their journey. TMCC student Krista Gayer, who will receive her associate degree in Visual Art, calls her story “Motivation.” 

On Deciding to Pursue a Major in Art

Krista Gayer admits that her decision to pursue visual art as her major at TMCC hasn’t always been an easy one. “There have been moments when I have had to justify this degree to myself,” she said. “Art is a difficult field to make a successful living at and about halfway through my degree, I started having second thoughts if this was the right path for me. To get past this, I had to be true to myself and to stay focused on what was really important to me, which is creating... I was meant to be an artist.” 

Paintings by Krista Lee Gayer on display

Gayer’s exhibition “Hunted” was shown at the Domestic Violence Resource Center in Reno last Fall.

Gayer’s art is both a vehicle of self-expression as well as a reminder for the need to take care of ourselves and others. In the fall of 2019, she created an exhibit “Hunted” which used symbolism and metaphor to articulate the oftentimes complicated cycle of abuse. The exhibition was shown at the Domestic Violence Resource Center in Reno, and was her culminating project for the Portfolio Emphasis class, one of the most challenging—and rewarding—in her degree program. 

“I like to focus on subject matters such as sexuality and topics like abuse, which is the series that I had created for my art show in my Portfolio Emphasis class. Through my artwork I was able to speak out about a topic that I not only find important but that so many have gone through and need a voice as well. If there's one thing I want to achieve by being an artist, it's to be able to reach out to others and I was able to accomplish that with this show.”

The class also required Gayer to not only create ten pieces of artwork in her expressive and symbolic style—enough to create a full exhibit—but to market her work through a personal website, social media, and postcards that she designed and had professionally printed. “The class was extremely challenging... but it was also my best class because it taught me better time management and communication skills. By learning how to promote and talk about my artwork, this class has prepared me for what it takes to have a professional art career,” she said. 

Earning Accolades Along the Way

In addition to hosting a successful exhibition in the community, Gayer also received several accolades for her artwork while in TMCC’s Visual Art program, including a second-place for one of her paintings in the Student Art Show in the Spring of 2019. She was also granted an opportunity to go to a National Portfolio Day in San Francisco. These accomplishments made her realize how much her hard work has enabled her artwork to improve. 

Yet, Gayer’s journey as an artist is hardly over. After graduating from TMCC, she plans to enroll into a bachelor program in interior design—extending the symbolic safe spaces on her canvas to the spaces in which people live and work. “My career goal is to become an interior designer because a person's space is supposed to bring comfort for them, and I believe that the more comforting the space, the better the mental health of an individual,” she said.

A Story about Motivation

Gayer envisions her story as one that speaks to motivation: “I have always followed through and finished what I have started. I did not want this experience to be any different. I struggled along the way through a mental war with myself, but I did not want the fear of failure to cause me to give up on my dream,” she said. “I was also very motivated throughout this journey because I am a first-generation college student and it was important for me to do this strictly for myself to further my education along with my artistic abilities.” 

To future TMCC students, Gayer says it’s important to know what you’re passionate about and to commit yourself to the pursuit of your dreams. “Time is going to pass no matter what. You should just use that time working toward something you love,” she said. “I could not be happier with what I have accomplished here.”

Join us in celebrating TMCC’s Class of 2020! Visit TMCC’s Facebook page for live interviews with our graduates, and updates about their incredible journeys.