Forrest B. Tyler, PhD, has made a career of finding the beauty in things--from the people he encounters as a community psychologist to the driftwood along a New Zealand shore that has inspired some of his sculptures.
Tyler's research on youth gangs and racial issues have taken him all over the world. And those same travels have also been the muse for his other passion--art.
"He really has two distinguished careers," APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD, said at an April 24 ceremony in which Tyler dedicated one of his sculptures to APA's Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs (OEMA) in the Public Interest Directorate. The black marble statue, "Profiles"--an abstract piece that aims to represent all people's faces--will be permanently displayed at APA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Tyler has created about 50 sculptures of marble, stone and driftwood that have been exhibited across the country. "Profiles" signifies the interrelationship of science and art in enhancing the richness of life, Tyler says. He donated the statue to OEMA to remind psychologists of that message.
"There are many profiles of people, and all have beauty and dignity, and I hope this piece says that," Tyler says.
He emphasizes the melding of beauty and science in his psychology work, too. Researchers can sometimes be too detached or fall into the trap of telling children instead of guiding them, Tyler says. However, in his work with youth gangs, Tyler steers "street kids" to reveal their own identities and find the beauty in their lives.
In his 50-year career, Tyler has published about 90 journal articles and has held positions such as chief of the psychology section in the behavioral sciences training branch at the National Institute of Mental Health and director of clinical and community psychology training at the University of Maryland (UMD). The UMD professor emeritus has also served as visiting professor to Beijing University in China and the University of Allahabad in India, among others.
"He has consistently applied his knowledge and used his influence to address issues associated with social justice, culture and ethnicity," says Henry Tomes, PhD, executive director of APA's Public Interest Directorate, who has known Tyler for more than 30 years. "I had often seen his creativity, sensitivity and tenacity in the personal and social realms, but now we see those same attributes in his artistic work."
While science and art may appear to be opposites, Tyler says his two careers nurture each other in their mutual quest to uncover hidden beauty.
"Art and psychology both require rigor and hard work," Tyler says. "And at their finest, they speak to the beauty of what they are about."