Purposeful Repurposing: Georgann DeMille on Exhibit

At the TN Arts Commission Gallery

November 17, 2017 – January 12, 2018

By Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media and Design –

Exhibiting elegant repurposed art in Illinois, Florida and Tennessee, University of Memphis graduate Georgann DeMille creates art that connects to a story or person through combining aspects of nostalgia with unusual and recycled materials.

While at first glance, DeMille’s work looks as if it might be wearable and usable, it is in fact, nonfunctional and intended for purely visual reflection and consideration. Though, DeMille admits that she likes viewers to question if the objects could be worn or used.

As DeMille tells her story, she was a late bloomer entering into college (graduating in 2013 in her late 50’s) to follow and nurture her love of art and sewing. When asked which artists have inspired her, she does not hesitate to say she her artistry was encouraged and motivated by spending childhood summers with her grandmother learning how to sew and make patterns. Through the years, DeMille often designed and sewed children’s clothing and quilts — she even made maternity clothes for her sister.

Fondly nicknamed the “Hippie Bag Lady” due in part to having made bags as well as often being observed hefting bags stuffed with repurposed materials gifted by friends, DeMille incorporates secondhand materials in new and altered ways into her work. Materials may include book pages, thread, flower petals, fabric dryer sheets, wire and magazines.

DeMille’s sewing skills were further honed in college to allow for continued storytelling. She repurposed National Geographic Magazine pages to create three-dimensional objects that might be used when traveling to exotic places that were often written and photographed within the pages of the magazine. Such works include a Nat Geo Backpack and a Nat Geo Duffle (bag). She is currently working on a pair of galoshes (in her shoe size) also made from the pages of National Geographic Magazine.

“First of all I am NOT a hoarder, but I do love collecting those items that other people might throw away. These disposables become my unconventional supplies that I cut and paste the old fashioned way, and create one of a kind artwork,” said DeMille.

view online exhibit

Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery is located at 401 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, 615.741.1701 (V/TDD).
Open: Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, free admission.
To schedule a gallery tour, contact Krishna Adams at 615.532.9798.
For ADA inquiries, contact Kim Johnson at 615.532.979.