Cierrah Garza: Where artistry meets athleticism

A busy day for Cierrah Garza unfolds as a blend of brushes and barbells.

It begins as she attends art classes from 8 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., only too switch gears to weight training with her rugby team for another hour after classes. After a brief break, she heads to field practice where she continues conditioning with the team from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Cierrah Garzah competes in the BYU rugby match against Central Washington University on Oct. 14 (Photo by Katrina Huhtala)

Yet, for Garza, this relentless schedule is more than just a series of time slots; it’s a glimpse into her unwavering commitment for her two passions. On one hand, she is an aspiring art teacher, looking to mentor children and teenagers as they discover their internal creativity. On the other, she is a dedicated player for the BYU women’s rugby team, guiding her team to victory for multiple seasons. 

Amid the serene world of art, Cierrah paints a striking contrast with her life as a rugby player. “It does feel like I live a double life sometimes…I see a lot of other artists in my classes and they have such a specific aesthetic, whereas I come in in all my rugby gear and sweatpants,” Garza said. 

In 2019, a rugby player and friend of Garza’s convinced her to try out for the rugby team. While Garza had never played rugby before, she had experience playing various sports in high school. She decided to give it a shot. 

“Garza’s not afraid. She’s a go-getter. Rugby is a contact sport, and she’s not afraid to go into contact…She never played until college and sometimes that’s a hard thing, to build aggression and what not, but because of her experience playing high school sports, that has carried on to rugby,” BYU rugby captain Kat Stowers said. 

Her determination is also evident in her journey to become an art teacher. When Garza first came to BYU, she started majoring in public relations, before switching to a business major. Yet her lifelong love for art and creativity lingered in the back of her mind. 

Cierrah at her friend JP’s pottery studio “throw.” photo via @artcierrahgarza on Instagram

Although she longed to be an art major, she decided that another career would be able to support her better financially in the coming years. That was until one professor inspired her to follow her dreams.   

“A professor gave a lecture about his life and how he majored in accounting… and realized he wasn’t really happy even though he had money. He realized that he had always wanted to teach, so he became a professor and now is loving life,” Garza said. “It is a significant pay difference, but he said ‘if you live in moderation and love what you do, you’re always going to be happy and it’s going to be worth it. If this is not for you, switch right now.’”

That’s what gave Garza the final push. She switched her major to art and kept business as her minor. 

There are no limitations to Garza’s creations in the studio. From non-objective ceramic pieces, to more functional pottery pieces, from wire sculptures to wood sculptures, she does it all. 

“I have always loved art; it’s always been a big part of my life. I haven’t done a lot of shows or anything or competitions, but it’s just something I’ve always enjoyed. It was definitely one of the subjects in school that gave me a safe place and became an outlet for anything,” Garza said. 

While her art isn’t easy, and it can be time consuming, Garza finds it fun and relaxing.

“Her art is pretty abstract. She’ll always show me her art and ask me what I think it is, and I usually get it wrong. That’s the beauty of it, you can see her art and interpret it in multiple different ways,” said Garza’s close friend Chantelle Whitney.

Garza described one of her favorite non-objective pieces that she has made, a sculpture made out of clay, plaster mold, and finished with a glaze. “It was so hard to make but the turn out was really cool,” she said. Although it is an abstract piece, at a first glance one might see jellyfish. 

At the moment, her favorite art medium is ceramics. “I’m really into functional art…that’s why I love ceramics so much because it’s functional and almost instant,” Garza said.

So what does the future hold in store for Cierrah Garza?

“I really want to focus on my art degree and teaching. I really want to teach elementary school, but I wouldn’t mind teaching high school either. The cool thing about teaching at high school is that I could coach too. I could start a rugby team,” Garza said. 

Chantelle says that Garza has a natural gift of working well with children, after Chantelle brought her young nephews to one of Garza’s art shows. “She explains things very well. She has a very gentle part of her…she has a soft spot for kids especially,” Whitney said. 

When it comes to rugby, Kat agrees that Garza’s own experiences of learning will help her if she decides one day to coach the younger generation. “It is a complicated sport…so I think she will be able to help them understand what helped her best while she was learning,” Stowers said. “She is always trying to involve others, she puts extra hours on outside of practice…at first she was just learning, but now she is a teacher.”

College can be a challenging time for many students. With hundreds of classes and careers to choose from, it can seem impossible to make so many life decisions. In a world that often emphasizes specialization, Garza’s story reminds students that it’s possible to embrace multiple passions and excel in different fields. It is never too late to change one’s course and follow your dreams. 

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