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EGSC professor, advocacy group celebrate 20 years of art with exhibit at local gallery

Desmal Purcell, a professor of art at East Georgia State College, is celebrating 20 years of being a part of the Stillmoreroots Group, a rural arts advocacy group celebrating its 20th anniversary. He and the six other group members are exhibiting new works in an exhibition titled Common Ground/Common Thread. The artworks included in the exhibition are often experimental, reflective of the community, and address contemporary issues. The artwork can be viewed until May 7 at the Kalmanson Gallery at the Emanuel Art Council at 109 North Green Street in Swainsboro.

The Common Ground/Common Thread exhibition is a “homecoming” for the group which began in 2002 with an exhibition in the woods of Stillmore. The group has hosted more than 30 exhibitions across the United States, but most of their exhibitions have centered around rural communities and celebrating the stories they tell and contribute. From 2003 to 2012, the group held an annual “Art in the Woods” exhibition on the spring equinox on the land of Jane and Harry Purcell.

“The StillmoreRoots artist collective started as an outdoor exhibition in the planted pines of my family farm in Stillmore, Georgia back in early 2000s,” said Purcell. “Since then, we have shown in many alternative spaces and traditional venues. It’s wonderful to mark this 20-year point with an exhibition at the Kalmanson Gallery here in Emanuel County.”

The artists included in the exhibition include Scott Dombrowski of Illinois, Anthony Faris of North Dakota, Jean Gray Mohs of North Carolina, Nick Nelson of Missouri, Mary Valeria of Hawaii, and Brandon Tatom of Georgia, like Purcell. The group members remain friends, colleagues, and each of the exhibiting artists’ work or contribute to the arts within their community.

“It’s important to me, as a local art professor, gallery director and working artist all here in Emanuel County, to connect with my community. As an artist, I am always looking and listening for stories that need to be told. Art becomes a vehicle for exploring those stories,” stated Purcell. “I want to continue to contribute to my community and work to give back to the place I call home. It’s important to show the youth of our community that art is accessible, meaningful and can make a difference in your life and the life of others.”

Purcell and his art students at East Georgia State College have a small gallery on campus they maintain and display their artwork in. He also serves as the Kalmanson Gallery Director and is working to schedule exhibits for the gallery. This is the second exhibit the Emanuel Arts Council has had on display since the gallery opened in December 2021.

“We are very fortunate at the Emanuel Arts Council to have Desmal Purcell as our The Kalmanson Gallery director,” said Jacquie Brasher, executive director. “He has worked tirelessly to program art exhibitions for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. We are so excited about all our upcoming shows and urge the public to come visit our gallery. Look for us on Facebook and Instagram for all updates.”

“I would like to thank the Emanuel Arts Council, the Mill Creek Foundation, the city of Swainsboro, East Georgia State College, and the greater Emanuel County community for hosting our creative endeavors over the last two decades,” said Purcell.

The groups next exhibition will take place at the Altama Museum of Art and History in Vidalia during the upcoming summer. For more information on the Stillmoreroots Group, visit the group on Instagram at or on YouTube at

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