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Yatika Fields is the kind of person who has always been comfortable in his own skin, someone who has always stayed true to who he is. That is something you very rarely find these days, or even those days, or any days. He has energy for life. He lives. He explores. He creates. I admire many characteristics of Yatika, the most being how he follows the beat of his own drum, always has, always will. That takes balls. Most people wouldn’t admit it but it does. To go through life living how you want to live it, doing what you want to do, enjoying the thrills of everything but not because it’s thrilling but because you know this is life, this is how it’s meant to be lived. That is hard to do. It’s hard to live that way. Yatika lives that way and probably doesn’t think twice about it, about how others might find it so admirable and pure, which is exactly what makes him admirable, and pure. Continue reading for a great interview with Yatika.

Serial Optimist: Many things come to mind when I think of the name Yatika Fields: artist, chess player, traveler, cyclist,  someone who is proud of his heritage, dancer, and…just a good guy. Aside from the good guy part, which I’m sure is still relevant, how much of everything I mentioned are you actively involved with? What did I leave out? Basically, what consumes your life?

Yatika Fields: All of them and then some. I get down with my heritage in June, the Osage Dance in Osage County. Currently I’m mostly focusing on painting. Traveling is in the mix; I recently was out in Santa Fe for a show and now back in Brooklyn getting ready for a wedding and then Barcelona in October. All the while I train and do laps in Prospect Park. Lurking and waiting for the next race. In November on the return I will get a new studio and paint all winter.

SO: Tell me about how your passion for cycling came about. And what I mean is, the passion for taking bike messaging through the streets of NYC to an unreal extreme. I’ve watched some of the videos you’re in, and it scares me just watching it. How long did it take to reach that comfort zone, or is there a comfort zone to be reached?

Yatika: The passion for cycling started at a young age. I was like 3 or 4 and had a bike with training wheels. My sister thought it would be cool to hop on while I was riding it and off they came. At that moment I was on my own. I had to learn to balance and ride without support. It has been said that I was the smallest kid in the neighborhood riding around on two wheels, and I remember causing hell.

Flash forward like 25 years and I’m still causing panic, only now in the streets of NYC. I’m talking: Lafayette, Bway, Canal, 5th Ave. I was living in Boston before the move down, and I lived with messengers there and familiarized myself with city riding and acquired a few bikes. I started riding track in 2002, moved to NYC in 2004 with only clothes and a bike, having run out of cash. Got a job as a messenger, became well versed in city riding.

Trial and error and some near death experiences later and I was hooked. As a messenger in the city you see more of Manhattan in a month than a New Yorker does in ten years or ever. I’ve been in a good majority of the buildings that reside here, very epic. I realized that I was pretty fast, so the next level is alleycats. These are illegal street races not sanctioned by the city where messengers compete for all kinds of things, bragging rights for sure. Checkpoints are scattered throughout the city and the racer who completes them the fastest wins, simple really. Lucas Brunelle has a great site to check out.

The comfort zone took some time, it’s like chess, you have to be able to read five moves ahead, instinctual. Go for gold and create the scene.

SO: I’m a big fan of your art. What are you currently working on, where can people find your art, what exhibits do you have coming up, and can you define your style, your medium?

Yatika: You can find my work at Chiaroscuro Contemporary in Santa Fe, Sam Noble Museum in Norman, OK and The Heard Museum in Phoenix. Currently I’m showing six new works at Chiaroscuro. In October I will be in Barcelona for three weeks doing live painting events. Then back to Brooklyn where I will start working on a new series.

My style is defined with a bold color palette, very energetic. It’s a transforming process that never ends. My choice are oils, old holland paints and large canvases.

SO: Do you listen to music when you paint, if so, what do you listen to?

Yatika: Music is key; I love NPR if it’s cold out, Roots reggae when it’s hot. Love classic rock, metal, T-Rex, Band Of Horses, and Local Natives just to name a few.

SO: You seem to have a passion for fashion. (Yeah I rhymed it, what). Tell me about that.

Yatika: You know it’s wild you asked that. My recent works all incorporate this textile motif where I use these flowing fabrics with my own designs thrown in. These recent works focused on simplicity and elegance through folds and flows. Being in NYC has helped as well, just being able to see what is being made here. Designers and all media artist alike. The opportunity to see this creativity and new ideas all reside here.

SO: What things are truly most important to you in your life?

Yatika: My family and girlfriend, friends, the loved ones, Pendo, my two bikes, my hands, dreams, gold spray paint, my eyes, my skeleton, Mother Earth, swimming sessions, turtles and paintbrushes.

SO: What current artists/people do you draw inspiration from and enjoy?

Yatika: Rosson Crow/ James Rosenquist / John Trudell / Kenji Hirata / Doug Miles of Apache Skateboards / Andrea Carlson / Erik Parker / Kristin Baker / Tokio Aoyama / Michael Hezer / Lebbeus Woods / Anita and Tom Fields.

SO: I’m in NYC for one night. What are we gonna do?

Yatika: Catch a show at Union Pool, great crowds, cheap drinks and always a good time. It is located in the heart of Williamsburg so be ready. Okay things are about to get heated as we move on to the city. You know that scene in The Lost Boys where their like “Michael, jump,” He’s like “what?” There all under the bridge hanging out while the train is coming. Well, were going to find a nice spot on the Williamsburg Bridge and do just that. Dangling and jangling above the East River, bodies shaking as the train rambles above. From our spot the view would be picturesque. After our shot of adrenaline we climb up and continue into the city. First LES then over to the West Village then Flat Iron and if we can still walk, then Midtown. If we are real champs and $300 later, then we hit Uptown.

SO: Do you have a motto, a quote you like, maybe from a song, something that mentally slaps you in the face when you’re down, if so, what is it?

Yatika: That would have to be Pink Floyd – “Have a Cigar.” The lyrics and the sound just move me beyond words.

SO: Love it. Thanks Yatika!


SO Note: Follow Yatika @Yatikafields.