Melissa Misla, born 1989, is a native New York artist whose works acknowledge both the loss and survival of culture through colonization and immigration. Based in Elmhurst, Queens considered one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in New York, her work has transversed into an exploration of the maintenance of culture within the city. Through painting and mixed media, she utilizes her observation of her Nuyorican culture as the main focus.

Following her art education since adolescence, Misla continued her study in the BFA program at Hunter College 2011, and she is currently working towards her MFA at Queens College. It was in undergrad, with support provided by the Kossak Painting Fellowships award, where she began working with concepts of cultural identity and common representations of the Puerto Rican diaspora in NY otherwise known as the Nuyoricans. The work explored figurative and abstracted architectural subjects that layered tropical colors with earth tones. This color interest continued on a self-initiated residency in P.R. in 2012 where she first recognized her interest in creating contrast and depth through adjacent areas of detail and generalized form through mixed media. This interest in that balance led to her use of digital imaging in her current work. Continually, it was in P.R. where she began researching Taino culture. The Tainos are the indigenous people of Puerto Rico and the neighboring islands, who became nearly extinct following Columbus and the settlement by Spanish colonists. It was through this investment that she utilized the concept of tracing back to Puerto Rico’s origin as the Taino island of Boriken, meaning "the great land of the valiant and noble Lord". The use of Taino and Nuyorican themes became the tools to reclaim power for the Borinquenos (a native or resident of Puerto Rico) and their descendants.

Misla’s current work employs mixed media—specifically: oil, gouache, graphic design prints and enamel— to explore expressionistic marks in conjunction with narrative representations of space and figures. Her most recent project is a mixed media and collage work depicting a Nuyorican apartment interior. This project depicts a space where the Taino culture is revered within Nuyorican life, mirroring the endurance of culture and tradition within NY. It promotes the necessity of cultural continuity to empower people to be resilient through current strife. These concerns include gentrification, institutionalized racism, immigration reform and lack of presidential support, health issues, and the annihilation of their homeland through war and natural disaster. This work undoubtedly pays tribute to those she’s lost, who informed the themes as well as inspired the initial search for strength through Taino culture. Additionally, her work participates in discussing the tragic struggles of Puerto Rico with the financial crisis and devastation of the Island from the two most recent hurricanes, where many of her family reside.

Her work has been supported by her parallel artistic career. Beginning as an Art educator and assistant program director for the YMCA where she taught varied art classes Pre-k to 12 while assisting with operations of the programming. She continued in both operations and creative endeavors working at Blick Art Materials, where she expanded her knowledge of materials while educating and organizing community events in support of the Arts and designing corresponding graphic advertisements. Currently, she works to enhance the visitor experience in the Visitor Engagement department of The Museum of Modern Art. Enveloped by the masters of her craft as well as introduced to the contemporary art milieu in which her work contributes to, Misla is constantly engaging with conceptual and aesthetic analyses that impact her work. Within her community, she has also worked the New York based artist collective NeoCreos, and their 2014 Bone Razed show held the local interest in Jackson Heights. The show, included in Remezcla’s “3 Can't-Miss Latino Art Exhibits in NYC” post, also positively reviewed by the Queens Tribune, explored gentrification and displacement, especially targeting the proposal to extend the business improvement district along Roosevelt Avenue and its effect on the socioeconomic and political climate of the area. She continues to make work as a contributor to the conversations of such issues, while steadily investigating the properties and potential of mixed media work.