Emerson Burrows brings originality to everything he does


Emerson Burrows

Emerson began skateboarding around three years ago, and hopes to one day pursue it professionally.

A few days ago, freshman Emerson Burrows was watching Little Women when his cat spontaneously caught on fire.

“I turned around, and my cat was half on fire,” Emerson said. “I had a candle lit, and he walked over the candle and engulfed himself in flames.”

Having completely set aside the viewing of the film, Emerson rushed from his bed in an attempt to save his feline friend. And after a whirlwind of utter chaos, he managed to snuff out the blaze, leaving Walter, the Maine Coon, practically unscathed—that is besides a few singed hairs and bad memories.

However—as he reflected on that heated altercation in humor as well as humility—Emerson’s truest takeaway was just how unrelenting the bond between him and his cat has become. Woven within a web of other powerful passions, Emerson finds a sense of belonging and trust with Walter that differs from most human connection.

“He’s pretty much the love of my life. Every single day, we have conversations,” Emerson said. “I’m not even sure how they work, but I meow and ask him how his day was, and then he meows back. I firmly believe that we’re spiritually connected.”

Seeking solace in this uniquely kindred relationship, Emerson has found room to continue being unapologetically original. Having begun expeditions in both skateboarding and design, he hopes to bend the lines of a one track-perspective and introduce new mediums and environments into his life.

For around two years now, Emerson has been drawn to the world of street art, an often over-simplified domain that, in reality, permeates with depth. What most people see as abstract words etched in obscure locations are, to others, impactful statements of love, kindness, and even pain.

“I think [graffiti] is such an overlooked form of art because people just think it’s words—which it is—but there’s so much more creativity to the word,” Emerson said. “There are actual backstories behind the meanings of things, like how [Black Lives Matter] had a huge impact on the graffiti community.”

I think [graffiti] is such an overlooked form of art because people just think it’s words—which it is—but there’s so much more creativity to the word.”

— Emerson Burrows

Even though street art began as a rebellious activity to partake in alongside his friends, Emerson now recognizes the social significance that the art form inherently possesses. Because of this, he has been able to fall even more in love with the medium.

Whether it be the word he chooses or the catharsis of creating the piece, being able to put himself out there and, quite literally, color outside of the lines is a feeling Emerson isn’t planning on abandoning anytime soon.

“I think it’s just [about] me expressing myself,” Emerson said. “Most of the time, I come up with names that have some meaning behind them, like I used to use the word ‘bum’ as one of my tags because I think a lot of people look at skaters like they’re bums or they’re not as good as other people.”

Akin to his adoration for graffiti, skateboarding has become a prevalent interest in Emerson’s life—one he is already heavily committing himself to. After three years of tireless work, he hopes to soon secure a sponsorship and take his hobby to an entirely different level.

And ever similar to all his other passions and pursuits, the through line that tethers Emerson to skateboarding is one of ingenuity and self-expression. Whether he is out in public or practicing by himself, reaching milestones and perfecting new moves elicits a sense of triumph utterly unparalleled.

“It is so mentally draining trying a trick for months and not being able to land it. Then, when you finally do, it’s like winning the Nobel Prize,” Emerson said. “I remember skating in my basement and trying to kickflip, and I was like, ‘I’m so close to this. I need this.’ And [when] I finally landed one, I just sat there for a second with my mouth open and started screaming as loud as I could.”

Like a root embedded in the groundwork of his life, originality defines the many ebbs and flows of Emerson’s hobbies. Whether crafting an exquisite piece of street art or putting out a small cat-related house fire, he aims to carve out a space for other up-and-coming creatives like himself.

“I used to play football from fourth grade to sixth grade, but I quit because there were too many rules,” Emerson said. “Everybody was always telling you what to do. You always had to go to practice on certain nights. With skating, there are no rules to it. Nobody can tell you what to do; it’s just you and yourself.”