UAFS and Fort Smith Symphony Launch Unexpected Collaboration

Students at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, had the opportunity to learn from a classically-trained and internationally-known artist, thanks to a partnership between UAFS, the Fort Smith Symphony and 64.6 Downtown. 


Artist Yatika Fields spent a full week conducting an immersive course, guiding art students in the creation of artworks based on Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, a suite of ten pieces composed in 1874 by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, ahead of the Fort Smith Symphony concert to be held May 11, 2019. The original music was based on drawings and watercolors by artist Viktor Hartmann. 


"This collaboration offers our students an exceptional chance to work with a world-famous visual artist and expand their education at a higher level," said Dr. Edward Serna, interim chancellor of UAFS.  "One of our core missions is contributing to our region's quality of place, so it's a wonderful opportunity to partner with The Unexpected and The Fort Smith Symphony, two organizations that so fully embrace that mission with us."


Throughout the week, Fields offered students technical training in oil painting, guidance on interpreting music onto canvas, and mentorship in working as a professional artist with a vision.


"Expressing themselves through feeling isn't something they teach in school, but is something that influences my work, so that's something I'm trying to teach here," said Fields. "To work freely, to work spiritually, to listen to the music and compose their own painting based on the music they hear, throwing away everything they know and painting from the heart."


Fields completed a painting alongside the students during the week of instruction, and all the works will be exhibited and offered for sale at the symphony concert in May.  


"No one can force you to see yourself as smart, capable, talented or wise," said UAFS Graphic Design major Heli Mistry, "but working with Yatika has helped us realize that we all have unique positive traits within ourselves, and that through focus we can build our artistic confidence up to consider ourselves masters of our craft. He's inspired us to find ourselves through a brush and the freedom to paint solely from the heart." 


Fields is an experienced muralist and gallery artist with a focus on graffiti aesthetics, surrealism, and landscape painting. He was trained at the Art Institute of Boston, has worked across the country from New York City to Seattle, and currently lives and works in Tulsa in conjunction with the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. 


Tickets to the May 11 concert can be purchased at

Rachel Rodemann Putman, Interim Public Information Director
Photo Credits: 
Rachel Rodemann Putman
Date Posted: 
Saturday, March 16, 2019
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