Courtney Adair Johnson || Reuse Artist || Nashville, TN

Courtney Adair Johnson

I call myself a reuse artist. I see the possibilities of creating awareness of waste through art. When we connect with the items that go through our hands--what we consume and discard--we begin conversations about how we live and how we treat others. 

I source my all of my supplies from the abandoned and used; looking for what others deem worthless. I assemble, weave and sew together what we use and abandon. Employing drawing, painting, bookmaking, printmaking, assemblage, photography and walking into community dialogue, I promote and increase the discourse of reuse and mindfulness.

My practice and art making have been deepened by the emergence of parallels to social issues. I am always looking for the excess and inequities that might exist all around us. As I repurpose materials, I explore other viewpoints. I look to create conversations about our history and the essential nature of knowing where we came from--not just tearing down and replacing the structures and communities that are already in place. 

Material and community needs dictate my movement, how it fits together, and what it shapes. I look for places for art to play, adding color and contradictions, layers and truths on which we can build.  

Edgehill Map print plates.jpg

Edgehill Map print plates

I find that using found material to create my artwork offers many opportunities for experimenting.  I sourced paper that already had marks on it, finding six of the same size so they could fold into one another. I then built up each layer of the roadway with different materials to see what might print best. The inking of the plates created a stark contrast between material and paper. I did not create this print plate in reverse so it became a test print. 

Mapping Mcgruder brochure.jpg

Mapping Mcgruder brochure 

I created an interactive printable brochure for my first project at McGuder Family Resource Center. It highlighted Curlie E. McGruder who the center is named after, giving you more information about the matriarchy while also printing a likeness of her on the brochure. In the inside of the brochure you can learn more about community interested and put your thoughts in spaces provided. 



A mask made from found cigarillo wrappers, each one opened up to use the reflective material. I placing them and cutting them to build a mask like structure, sewing them together using floss. 

This piece creates a mirror like effect for the view to see themselves reflected in, the material used is ready available on the streets. Discarded by those who don’t realize they are caught in a  single use disposable society of waste making. 

Your Edgehill 1 and 2.jpg

Your Edgehill 1 and 2 

Two photographs showing some of the new housing construction in the Edgehill neighborhood of Nashville, TN. The new houses in the images have removed all the trees from their lots, and the individuals living in them operate in a very sterile fashion with the neighborhood. I photoshopped the words; No trees and everyone drives, over the top of the pictures to start a conversation around participation in community and nature. 

Do you every look around you and think are we doing it wrong? If you take out all the trees how will we breath, also drainage. How does that effect the neighborhood or those around you when you do not interact with it.

Zero Waste Housing.jpg

 Zero Waste Housing

The photograph is from Fergus Falls, MN highlighting an abandoned nurses dormitory nestled on the campus of the Kirkbride mental hospital. The Zero Waste banners are cut from a plastic table cloth and photoshopped into the picture. 

What happens to abandoned properties when no one wants them or can come to a conclusion of what to do with them. In this case the city owns the property and has been looking for a buyer that can develop the whole property. Why do things become abandoned, how do we conserve resources, when this happens, what is worth saving and a ton of other questions that arise on topics such as these. 



Monoprint test prints that were savaged from the trash, cutting out a letter on each page to spell Zero Waste. Once cut stacking them together and then sewing them together.

I play with ways to have a reuse/zero waste conversation. How does the viewer know that it is sourced/found material? Do I spell it out. 

Scovel Nashville.jpg

Scovel, Nashville

I designed a show at The Parthenon Museum in Nashville, TN with six other artists, each picking an artwork from the Cowan Collection to reinterpret with their own medium and contemporary toolbox. This piece was made in response to George Inness, Sr’s impressionist painting, Greensward Durham. I used package material, plastic and paper, to create a landscape effect. Some were painting blue and green, sewn in layers to mimic the ambiance from the original painting.