Arts / Delaware / Urban development

DCAD’s Kelicia Pitts on returning to Delaware

The Delaware native was entrenched in Philly before being drawn back home. Now she's spreading the message of what Downtown Wilmington has to offer.

Kelicia Pitts. (Photo courtesy of Randle Reed/DCAD)
There’s something about Wilmington that drew Kelicia Pitts, the Delaware College of Art and Design’s recently-appointed Director of Galleries and Events, back to the state where she grew up.

“I’m from the Claymont area — I had gone to school in Delaware, graduated from Talley Junior High and Mount Pleasant,” said Pitts one warm afternoon in Willingtown Square, just across from DCAD’s campus. Like many Delaware kids, she looked to Philadelphia after high school. “In ’97 I went to Philly and was there for 16 years. I ended my experience in Philly by going to college. I went to Moore College of Art and Design, where they had a new program curatorial studies.”

Curatorial studies became her major, with a dual minor in business and fine art.

Last summer — the summer before her Moore graduation — Pitts was connected with DCAD’s director of development, Renee Garnick, who was looking for an art student to help with the planning of the school’s 20th anniversary.

“I felt a very strong feeling about Delaware,” said Pitts. “My first time seeing DCAD, it was very quaint. The buildings and facades in this area are beautifully done, you really get the feeling of history. It kind of reminds me of Old City in Philly, without the cobblestones.”

It's been sort of like a homecoming, and I feel great about it.

After completing the DCAD summer stipend opportunity, she was ready to make a more permanent move to Wilmington.

“I like Downtown Wilmington, had a great experience with Renee, and one thing led to another — I ended up getting a job at DCAD in the admissions department as the administrative assistant,” Pitts said.

It wasn’t her only job option: “I was very well connected in Philly,” she said. Other opportunities included the Barnes Foundation and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council.

“I chose this. It’s been sort of like a homecoming, and I feel great about it.”

In January 2018, Pitts was promoted to Director of Galleries and Events. Among her duties is running DCAD’s Toni & Stuart B. Young Gallery.

“I see it as the prominent art gallery in Wilmington,” she said. “You can see the whole space from outside. I’m exited to bring in artists who are an inspiration, not just to out students, but to members of our community.”

She’s bursting with ideas for community events, including some that utilize DCAD’s partnership with Nextfab Wilmington.

“You know, some people think, ‘Oh, downtown Wilmington.'” She waves a hand, signaling scorn. “And, to be honest, I didn’t really know about the sort of — lack of understanding, I’ll put it that way — of how cool Wilmington is. Being back in Delaware, but especially in Downtown Wilmington, is exciting because of all the new housing developments and more people coming, restaurants, small businesses and pop-up galleries. It is inspirational and I get to see it happening close up and be in the know.”

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