We had the good fortune of connecting with Janie Stidham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Janie, why did you pursue a creative career?
I grew up in Philadelphia and Dallas. I studied Fashion Design and Textiles at the University of Texas at Austin. I moved to Dallas when I graduated and began working in the apparel industry where I was responsible for a wide range of tasks in the design and production of women’s and children’s apparel. In addition to the creative aspects of the industry, I was also introduced to the business side and I decided that I wanted to move into higher education to better prepare students for all aspects of the apparel industry. That led me to graduate school at Texas Woman’s University and then eventually to University of North Texas where I was a faculty member in the College of Visual Arts and Design for over 25 years. After so many years of teaching and administrative roles, I felt removed from the creative process and I missed working with my hands and directly with the materials. So, early in 2020, I decided it was time to make a change and spend more time on my Textile Art practice which had been slowly building momentum for several years. I retired from my full-time job at UNT and am teaching a Textiles course at Baylor University which allows me more time and flexibility for my art. Little did I know what 2020 had in store for all of us, but I have done my best to roll with the punches and keep on creating!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started dabbling with the reclaimed textile idea several years ago after struggling to find something interesting and unique for my home while traveling. I was tired of seeing the same things everywhere and I also loved the idea of textiles used to create paint-like images. My work explores color, pattern, line, and shape through the use of textiles and sometimes enhanced with intuitive stitch. The imperfection of reclaimed materials that I use in my pieces keeps my work unique. I have exhibited my work in Louisiana, Kansas, Santa Fe, Fort Worth, Dallas, Plano, Corpus Christi, and recently at the Texas Tech Art Museum in Lubbock. I am currently working on some pieces for a private client in Florida and also for a new hotel in Fort Worth which is opening this summer. It has me feeling very hopeful about 2021!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, let’s see … we would start the day off early with a latte from Kimzey’s in Argyle. If you haven’t been there it’s a darling, fairytale-esque coffee shop. We would definitely go inside – because it’s well worth getting out of the car to see. After getting our coffee and yummy hummingbird bread to-go we’d set out for the Fort Worth Botanical Garden. My absolute, most favorite inspiring place is the Japanese Garden. It’s a Zen experience with over 7 acres of cherry trees, Japanese maples, bridges, and Koi fish. To be honest, I could spend the entire day there! But since we’d inevitably get hungry, we would head over to Local Foods Kitchen just a few minutes away in the Tanglewood neighborhood of Fort Worth. They have incredible salads, sandwiches, soups, desserts, with indoor and outdoor seating…. but you’ll need plenty of time to decide what to order! After lunch, we could go to The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for unique exhibits. For a good dose of women’s history in the American West I would be remiss not to visit the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame…it’s such a unique museum! If we wanted to do a little shopping… a favorite place of mine is the Guardado Garden Center. It’s primarily a landscaping center, but they have an incredible selection of pottery, Talavera, unique yard art, and an impressive amount of succulents and regional plants of all sizes. On our way back home to Argyle it’s fun to go to Founder’s Plaza Observation Area near the DFW Airport. This might not be for everyone, and maybe I watched too much “Wayne’s World”, but I just love to watch planes take off and land. It’s a lovely park and you can also listen to the pilots talk from the control tower.
For dinner we would end up back in Argyle at Earls 377 for wood-fired pizza, salad, and a glass of wine (or 2). The restaurant is built out of the old Argyle Fire station and has such a fun, eclectic atmosphere inside and out. Just be aware that it can get crazy busy on weekend nights!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Along the way I have encountered many interesting people and I suspect they have all had an influence on me in many more ways that I realize. Some of my key influencers include Victor Costa (eveningwear designer & knock-off king in the 80’s) with whom I had an internship, Barbara Hairston-Roberson, who introduced me to Santa Fe and southwestern influences, Judy Aldridge, a true original who is an expert in thrifting and upcycling, and Marian O’Rourke-Kaplan, my UNT colleague and lifelong mentor. I’ve also learned a tremendous amount from my UNT and Baylor students over the years who have kept me young and informed. No doubt, my husband has played a huge part in my success with his endless support and belief in me, along with building a beautiful studio for me a few years ago. There’s no question, however, that my most important advisors have been my two daughters who are the best sounding boards for all my crazy thoughts and ideas!
Kala Bennett (personal photo) Janie Stidham (all other images)