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In July, Tessa Miller ’05 took part in an art and design exhibition at a University of Nevada, Reno gallery. Miller owns The Nest, a boutique in Reno. Much of the work she does is creative—purchasing, repairing, and merchandising vintage clothing and furniture, and consulting with clients on interior designs—but it’s not the kind of work that typically would be shown by an academic institution.
She was excited to be asked to peruse UNR’s art collection and build a set of rooms at the gallery using pieces from her shop. Thinking about artwork in a domestic setting is right up Miller’s alley. Upon graduation, she decided, “Silicon Valley was not for me. I moved back here as soon as possible.” Her dad suggested a career path that hadn’t occurred to her, buying a retail store.
“The next thing I know, all of my savings I put down to purchase a used furniture business,” Miller said. “It’s not like I had a huge interest in furniture before that. I ended up loving it. It was my calling.
"The message I wanted to portray is that art is accessible, and it doesn’t necessarily belong only in galleries. I wanted to make the rooms look like a home so people could imagine gallery-worthy pieces of art hanging in their own bedrooms or living rooms." She added real-life touches such as pairs of shoes strewn here and there and a half-eaten bowl of cereal on the dining table. She also mixed in affordable artwork from her shop to see if people were able to tell the difference between high-priced gallery pieces and art found at yard sales.
“It was interesting to see that many people couldn’t tell the difference between the university’s collection and pieces that I sell in the shop for $20-$200,” she said. “It was my way of doing the blind wine tasting experiment but with art. I hope it made people realize that they can afford great art!"