Michelle Lisa Polissaint is a Miami-based artist, curator and arts activist. She is making impact in Miami by supporting and empowering local queer community through her unique artistic voice and is engaging people in projects and conversations that highlight many issues surrounding the topics of identity, gender politics, immigration, inequality and many more. Michelle was among the first members to join This Girls Lunchbox.
It’s been seven years since Michelle Lisa Polissaint, made the trek from Palm Beach to Miami-Dade. In that time, she’s left a mark at The ICA, The Miami-Rail, The Hialeah Cultural Center at Miami Dade College and more. Today, I’m sneaking moments with Michelle Lisa between cigarette breaks and meetings at Locust Projects, where she is the Programs and Outreach Manager. The highlight thus far, listening to a reading of Dr. Suesss’ “Wocket in my Pocket” performed to the tune of “Walk it, like I talk it”. The rabbit hole of the Internet always leads to magical things when you’re around this one.
As the conversation sways between her upcoming projects to the status of the next exhibition at Locust Projects to making plans for the weekend, the realization becomes clear, Michelle Lisa Polissaint saved my life. “The dramatics”, you’re probably thinking. But it’s true. Outside of her own visual practice and the day to day grind of all the projects and programs she manages, she’s also an incredibly attentive and caring human, poised with solutions that invigorate and push the work of everyone around her. She’s found a way to affect change not only by creating work, but by how she creates and how she occupies space.
Currently Michelle is participating in a vigorous Masters program at Johns Hopkins with a concentration in non profit management. Simultaneously she is showing all new work in the group exhibition, Collectivity, at Bakehouse and preparing for the first iteration of “Moonshine Moanin’”, her Ellie award winning project funded by Arts Center South Florida.
When you stop by Bakehouse, Enter through the front door. You’ll be greeted by Michelles large scale textile work. Known as a photographer, she has transformed her photo work into a fibers based practice seamlessly. Images intersect with embroidered notions of time spent, space shared or the desire for either or.
In December, she will be performing for the first time in years. I should have mentioned earlier, she can sing. For her project Moonshine Moanin’ she will embody the reincarnate combination of Ma’ Rainey and Bessie Smith. Channeling the unabashedly proud raunchy talent of these queer blues singes of the past. The performance will be a part of the “Free” Show, Produced by Spinello Projects at Brickell City Center.
I could go on and on about Michelle Lisa, but this is intended as an introduction, I want you to take the time to get to know her and her work yourself. Yes, her practice is visual, but it is also actionable. She’s intentional about holding the door open for others with every opportunity she gets. And for That, Miami is a better place.