Balancing Art, Science and Life

Tricia Coyle uses her background in cytology to create abstract paintings

By Tyler Bierman

Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


For a large portion of Tricia Coyle's career, she was a Cytologist. She worked in a lab analyzing cells and the anomalies that occur in them that signify disease. Coyle studied cells for 14 years learning the ins-and-outs of cells and committing that imagery to memory. However, after all that time she decided that it wasn't for her anymore. It was time for a new path, so she left the field and started using all of those stored up mental notes as her main inspiration for her art. It was a totally new type of experiment that turned into expression.

The results are abstract and stunning with saturated colors and bold clusters of shapes. Coyle goes on to explain, “They take on a cellular look; like looking through a microscope. A lot of people may not even decipher what the painting is, but with my experience I know it's carcinoma or an infection. I really like boiling it down to the essential parts and telling a story through that.”

She entered a small, local art show, won first prize and from there it kicked off. She began building her portfolio and developing her style with both painting and photography, but then circumstances changed. It was at that time that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I got my diagnosis the day before an art show. It was an event where I was selling, and I didn't sell. I just kind of sat and thought. The doctors said that it could be stage 0 or 1. I had a double mastectomy a month later.” From there, Coyle decided to step away from her art for a bit to focus on herself.

Because of the nature of her illness and the subject matter of her art, it was hard for Coyle to continue creating. She continues, “It’s been very emotional. People think, well, making art is great therapy, but it wasn’t very therapeutic. So I backed away from the paintings for a while and focused on getting healthy and working through it all.”

Today, Tricia Coyle is happy and healthy and looking forward to the future. She’s focusing on even more photography and paintings that continue to explore the abstract with a more minimalist influence.

Coyle is also proud of the work she has done in our community. “I like to donate,” Coyle states, “I’ve donated pictures and paintings to several St. Louis organizations. Divinemoira Studio raises funds for mental health, and I always donate to them. I’ve also done silent auctions to help support those sorts of organizations. Helping people in that way is what I’m most proud of.”

Coyle leaves with some parting thoughts, “I was really nervous about discussing openly my breast cancer, but I feel like if my story could help someone, you know, deal with their own situation that’s worth it. I’m looking forward to moving on and just producing more art.”

To find out more about Coyle and her work, visit her website at You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.