Emerald Pitts

Sharing My First-Generation Story: Emerald Pitts

Emerald Pitts (BFA 2020) is an artist based in the Missouri Ozarks. Their woven works bear witness to the space between societal binaries and act as refusals to any one way of being. Pitts is also the founder and president of the Cook Station Arts Collective, a nonprofit organization that promotes cultural exchange and accessibility to the arts in rural communities.

Read on to learn about their experience as a first-generation college graduate, and show your support on First-Generation Celebration Day, Wednesday, February 17.

Why was graduating from college important to you?
Graduating from college was important to me because I’ve always valued the pursuit of knowledge, and I knew that both my personal and career goals would be dependent upon the accomplishment. I’ve also always felt compelled to pursue higher learning as a way to honor the many artists in my family’s history who weren’t able to do the same and to bring everything I learned back to my community.

How did college help your career and creative practice?
One of the greatest benefits of furthering my education was the opportunity to have everything I thought I knew about my creative practice called into question. Working directly alongside professional and emerging artists expanded my horizons more than I had previously thought possible. I now have an incredible network of people and resources to actualize my career goals.

What advice would you give to current first-generation college students?
Take full advantage of every single resource that is offered to you. Get involved in student groups and build community for yourself. Do research on all classes and instructors before you sign up for them. Lastly, don’t compare yourself to anyone who seems like they’re ahead of you. You’re doing something for the first time and you should be proud.