“He is a perfect community builder, one that listens and one that creates spaces of inclusion and belonging in the truest sense.”
Emerson Granillo is earning his MFA at U-M’s Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design. Emerson was born in Guatemala and immigrated to the United States with his parents and brothers when he was a child. Growing up, they didn’t see other artists or academics who looked like them, and they are proud to be increasing representation for queer and Latino artists. They say, “My work is about identities that I don’t see adequately represented in the art world, and I want to be the artist that I needed when I was young.”
Outside the classroom, Emerson is determined to make the world a better place. In Chicago, they were an associate board member at Sarah’s Inn, an agency that provides services for families affected by domestic violence. When they lived in Texas, they were part of Art Alliance Austin and was an Associate Director for CAMIBArt Gallery. They currently work at the AIDS Action Committee, where they help provide emergency assistance to people who are HIV-positive. Emerson sees these activities as an extension of their work as an artist, and says, “Art has always given me a space to have a voice and use that voice to advocate for others.”
Emerson’s mentors describe him as hardworking, self-disciplined, and curious, and say, “He is a perfect community builder, one that listens and one that creates spaces of inclusion and belonging in the truest sense.” They are grateful to their community, teachers, and family for giving them the courage and opportunity to pursue a career as an artist.
CEW+ applauds Emerson’s persistence and names them an Elsie Choy Lee Scholar.