Squeezing it all in – Artist, Dancer, Teacher and Mom

Squeezing it all in – Artist, Dancer, Teacher and Mom

When an artist finds their calling, they often pour their hearts into making that talent come to life.  So many artists possess multiple talents in the arts and work hard to find the balance between worlds – often having to choose between one over the other.  Working a 9-5 presents a challenge to the artist overflowing with ideas.  Some have talked about how the mind constantly wanders into thoughts of their next project, while others can’t help but to doodle, sketch, or hum, getting lost in thoughts of artistic greatness.

No matter where their talent lies, some have had to master the “art” of being the extreme multi-tasker and that’s no different for Artist Milissa Fields.  Meet this mother of five, Teacher and Artist, who manages a busy schedule doing what she loves, spreading herself across many talents, all while instilling great values in her children.

Milissa Fields
Milissa Fields

What type of artist do you consider yourself?

“Just an artist.  If there is something to be created or expressed through writing, movement, or drawing & painting, I want to do it.  What type of artist does that make me.  I’m not really sure…. perhaps a well rounded one”.

Did you receive formal training?

“Artistic technical skills come naturally with practice and use.  From the time I picked up a pencil, danced to music that moved me, or thought of something to say and wrote it down, I was training myself.  I was born an artist.  I had art all through school growing up just like everyone else.  I was just the quiet one who practiced and drew, danced, wrote poems and stories all the time.  As I grew and matured so did my skills.  I attended the Rochester Institute of Technology for Graphic Design and Textile Surface Design for four years, and one year at Fashions Institute of Technology.  I’ve trained all my life to be an artist and if you ask me if I feel I’ve reached the height of my skills training my answer would be no.  There is still so much to learn and develop.  Consistency is how I train to be better.  The more I do, the better it gets.   But luckily for any artist, we don’t have to wait to go to school to train ourselves”.

How would you describe your style of artwork?

“Hmmm, in reference to my paintings, how I describe my style of artwork would be, colorful, emotional, flowing, passionate, erotic (at times),  abstract, conceptual, filled with patterns and designs and earthy.”

Artwork by Milissa Fields, Photo Credit:  Vernisha Snead
“Tanged” Artwork by Milissa Fields, Photo Credit: Vernisha Snead

What mediums do you work with?

“When painting, I use Golden products… I love them!  They are expensive, yes, but so worth it.  I stretch my own canvas all the time, unless I really see a great deal on pre-stretched canvases.  I primarily work with Acrylics, but I can work with any medium… just depends on what i am doing and what will work best.”

You were one of the artists to take part in the StreetPoetz launch event last August.  How would you describe your experience?

“The Streetpoetz launch event was the most positive, encouraging, and motivating experience ever!  I had just moved into a studio space that was occupied by 37 other artists, and it was awesome to see even more at Streetpoetz.  It was a great networking time for me.  I made lots of new artistic friends, people who were as passionate about art as I was.  Some who had been new to the scene, some like me returning to the artistic community, and some who had been around in the artistic community for many seasons.  It was awesome!  I since then have collaborated ideas and am currently working together with a few of the artists that I met at the event.  We complement each other fabulously, and we are still making those connections to other artists.”

What was the point in your life that you knew you’d be an artist?

“I don’t know at what point I knew I’d be an artist.  I think my parents and teachers saw and knew before I did.  I didn’t label myself then.  I just did what I did because i loved to do it, and accepted it when people said , ‘Your gonna be an artist’,  or ‘you’re such a good artist’.  I can’t say I really knew what it meant to be an artist.  I didn’t discover it until my adult life when I stopped doing what I love which nearly destroyed me… and that’s when it hit me.

"We the Same" Artwork by Milissa Fields, Photo Credit:  Vernisha Snead
“We the Same” Artwork by Milissa Fields, Photo Credit: Vernisha Snead

Can you tell us what inspires the subjects of your artwork?

“Well , my life and the people in it inspires the subjects of my artwork”.

What are some challenges you have as an artist?

“Financing my projects are challenging.  I have learned though to be patient and for those larger projects I save and plan.  That’s all anyone can do.  I’ve accomplished the impossible by having patience and the discipline save dollars towards supplies.  I also have to make great sacrifices, and not alone.  My family gives up some things too because of the career I have.   My family is my heart.  They encourage me and support me, so I pace out my projects as not to take too much away from their needs.  Its a balancing act, but as a single mother of five children, time and money management is a necessary and valued skill to utilize”.

"The Fields Children" Photo Credit: Milissa Fields (L to R Row 1: Nani,, Jahari, Imena, Amara Row 2: Oji)
“The Fields Children” Photo Credit: Milissa Fields (L to R Row 1: Nani,, Jahari, Imena, Amara Row 2: Oji)

How do you deal with the demands of work, motherhood, your art, being a dancer and a teacher?

“Well, I manage what I can.  I don’t force anything if it does not fit.  I try to give each of the children equal time together, and we have individual mommy and me times.  Having little to no finances makes everything difficult, but I believe nothing is impossible.  Just some things take planning, organizing and discipline.  Some days can get really crazy overloaded, and other days I’m trying to figure out why im twidling my thumbs.  It helps to have supportive family and friends in your corner, helping to get past the road blocks.”

Where can your artwork be found?

“Well since returning to my work last year, I have sold three paintings so they are in good hands with their owners.  The rest are waiting patiently in my studio for the next exhibit, event or the right owner to come along and take care of it.  To see my work, you can find me on Facebook under Artistic Adventures or!  You can also email me HERE, and I will send you samples of my work.”

We learned at your recent showing that you are also a dancer.  Can you tell us a little about this and how long you’ve been dancing for?

“I have been dancing for as long as I can remember.  I teach at Clark Academy of Performing Arts in Kenmore, NY.  I have been trained as a teacher and a dancer by Matthew Clark, Owner and Artistic Director since 2005, and my inspiration for many things.  I teach from the age of two to adult.  I teach tap and movement in a class to our 2 year olds called Diaper Dance.  In this class, I facilitate in educating both the parent and the child with movement and very basic terminology and techniques, dance class culture, and basically having fun dancing and exploring movement and expression together.  The highlight of my Saturday Mornings!  I teach children ages 3 to 7 tap and ballet as well.”

Matthew R. Clark & Melissa Fields, Photo Credit: Cheryl Gorski
Matthew R. Clark & Melissa Fields, Photo Credit: Cheryl Gorski

 Do you also have experience teaching other styles as well?

“I teach Afro – Caribbean Contemporary dance, which incorporates modern, jazz, and ballet techniques to the traditional techniques and styles of movement from various West African dances and African diaspora cultures like Haiti, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Cuba.  I also teach classes as a resident artist in the state of Pennsylvania, working through the Arts Council and with the band, One World Tribe.”

Where do you currently perform?

“I had the opportunity to perform:

    • In A Women Making History event with the Matthew Clark Dance Company
    • I have also performed in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Daniel Doctor and Choreographed by Matthew Clark
    • The Wiz, directed by Mary Kate O’Connell, also choreographed by Matthew Clark.  My latest joy was dancing on stage with the band Preach Freedom and Connect, at Wills Mountain.  I like dancing beside musicians, its a bond made in heaven.”

What would others be surprised to know about you?

“I love acting, though had very little experience with it, as well as writing poetry… I write children’s stories.  I haven’t published any – not sure why, just haven’t.  It was mainly to teach my children lessons about life I wanted them to learn in a fun way.”

You’ve mentioned you also go by another name that is very special to you.

“Yes, Maïmouna Cisse (MY-moon-ah  SEE-SAY).  It was given to me by my BaBa, Raymond Sylla of Senegal, West Africa – a teacher, and father figure.  I had a naming ceremony and it was such an honor. He chose the names and Maimouna means ‘sweet heart’ and Cisse means ‘fears no one but God’.”

How can someone reach you if they are interested in commissioning you for a project?

“I  am always interested in working with others and helping to develop concepts.  It is best to reach me by email.

Do you have a message for upcoming artists who may feel discouraged?

“Yes, follow your dreams!!!!  It’s that simple.  When obstacles get in the way, use your creative nature to get over and around them.

  • Embrace anything and everything that is positive and avoid at all costs negativity.
  • Stay away from bad energy.
  • Be proactive when you at your low moments…whatever keeps you lifted and moving surround yourself with that as much as possible.

The band, Preach Freedom and Connect has a song called, “Love What You Do”.  The refrain starts out saying, ‘Love what you do and do what you love’,  one of my favorite songs of theirs that I am trying to live by.  Truly.”


Leave a Response