Quilt Museum features 'Tribute to Ardis James'

The quilt "Ardis and Betty" by Susan Shie.
The quilt "Ardis and Betty" by Susan Shie.

The International Quilt Study Center and Museum will present the exhibition "A Tribute to Ardis James" from Jan. 6 through July 29. Quilts created by many of today's top studio quilt artists and donated in honor of James will be shown.

James, with her husband Robert, collected and donated the first 1,000 quilts that provided the impetus for the establishment of the International Quilt Study Center in 1997. Their vision and continuing generous support made possible the new museum building, which opened in 2008.

Many of the artists who donated quilts to honor the memory of Ardis James, who died in July at age 85, were in the early stages of their careers when the Jameses first noticed their work and bought pieces for their personal collection. A number of the artists who generously donated works as a tribute to Ardis James stated that the couple’s early encouragement was pivotal in their careers.

Establishing a career in any field of art is challenging and can take years, if not a lifetime, of combining the creation of art with the daily realities of making a living. Studio quilters strove to identify themselves with the broader community of artists represented in galleries, museums and private collections, rather than with traditional quilters who made quilts for use as bed coverings in the home. The Jameses were keen collectors of traditional antique American quilts, but as they became aware of the non-traditional quilts emerging from a cadre of talented studio quilters in the last quarter of the 20th century, their collecting grew to include the works of many contemporary art quilters.

Artists who contributed to the tribute are Sonya Lee Barrington, Pauline Burbidge, Dorothy Caldwell, Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade, Wendy Huhn, Michael James, Ann Johnston, Judith Larzelere, Linda MacDonald, Terrie Mangat, Therese May, Ellen Oppenheimer, Joan Schulze, Lynn Setterington, Susan Shie and Sandra Sider.

"Ardis' spirit lives on in our work, and in all the lives she touched with her generosity. I speak for our members in recognizing Ardis' very-much-appreciated contributions to the world of quilts," said Michael James, artist and chair of the UNL Department of Textiles, Clothing and Design. "Nothing would please her more than knowing that artists whose work she admired and loved would honor her in this way." James (no relation to the couple) credits their support for allowing him to carry on his work for many years before joining the UNL faculty.

Shie summed up the artists' sentiments when she wrote: "I especially thank Ardis, for believing in all of us."

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sundays; closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is free (with a valid NCard) for faculty, staff, students and their immediate family members.

For more information, go to http://www.quiltstudy.org or call 402-472-6459.