"Denim Squared", 2022
Kancan Denim, Linen, Velvet, Recycled Fabrics .
"It's the most amazing category we have in our closets, and then for me to take it and turn it into art just expands the variety you can have with denim"
- Janie Stidham
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Janie, a Texas native went to the University Of Texas and studied textiles, fashion, and design and worked in the apparel industry for many years and at the same time got her graduate degree from the Texas Woman’s University. Her journey ended up leading her to teaching fashion design at the University of North Texas for over 25 years. She was the coordinator of the program and during her time there she also taught students how to work with Denim that included a big research project with denim. Cone Mills, a manufacturer of cotton fabrics would donate denim to the students for several years until it eventually ended up shutting down putting her and the students in a predicament into finding new denim to work with. That is where Janie really started getting into recycling denim. The students would recycle denim and find ways to be resourceful and out of it would do some amazing design work. Recycling is something Janie has been quite familiar with. While teaching, Janie was also pursuing a textile practice doing textile are for interiors and also was using all types of recycled materials. That is also when denim came into the picture again and she was using that along with many other textiles. As Janie continued pursuing her textile practice, that eventually shifted her away from the school and administrative work to being able to be more of an artist and let here creativity shine. It wasn’t long until she got one of her art pieces in a new hotel “The Kimpton Harper” in Fort Worth. Before that she had only done commissioned work for homes and galleries but this was a new exciting opportunity for her to have a commissioned piece in a brand new luxury hotel and has many more projects in the works.
MEANING OF DENIM
Living in Texas, Janie was introduced to a lot of cotton as “Cotton is king” there as there has been a lot of denim produced out of cotton that was grown in Texas. Growing up in a largely cotton produced state, that influenced her meaning of denim and how much we think about denim, and how much we all wear denim. It really is a big part of our life. All socioeconomic cultures wear denim, all ages wear denim, and it’s one of the few garments that we actually like the more worn out it is Janie says. She finds it unusual for any apparel category to be something that a lot prefer more worn out and we couldn’t agree more. Janie is fascinated with denim and one of the things that stands out the most to her is how sustainable denim is. On top of the sustainability perks of denim it also goes so well with everything. It’s a garment that can be dressed up or down and has such a powerful history. What once started off as a utilitarian garment or workwear is now considered fashion, and something that is in every single one of our closets. The beauty of it is that it is a fashion garment but also still just as much a utilitarian garment as well. Janie says for her denim is the most amazing category we have in our closets, and then for her to take it and turn it into art just expands the variety you can have with denim.
"The more worn out it is, the more we like it"- Janie Stidham
ABOUT THE WORK
Janie enjoys mixing colors with denim and for this piece in particular, she wanted to do something colorful that worked well with the denim. Starting off she enjoys doing story boards or swatch boards where she can experiment with colors and see how they work together. This piece started off with her first laying out the colors and the shapes and seeing what it does when you change the grain of the fabric. She loves experimenting with changing the grain of a fabric especially denim as it creates a nice fade and dimension. When she is looking at art and working on the fabric, a lot of her thought process is around piecing things together and finding out the dimension it creates. A lot of pieces when you put them together she says, looks almost like a perspective drawing creating a 3 dimensional appearance which was what her goal was for this piece. Versatility is another thing that came to mind while working on this piece because it can also be rearranged. The squares can be sectioned out and this whole design can be reconfigured to look completely different. Janie likes to work with a wide variety of textures, and in this piece, she got creative with mixing textures like linens and velvets. By mixing these textures it creates an intriguing effect where the look actually changes as you walk around the piece. What she really wanted when making this design was for people to read texture when they see this piece. We couldn’t agree more that the mixture of textures can be so beautiful and you can really see how it comes to life in. Something very special about this piece is that the majority of it came from reclaimed materials. Aside from using the recycled Kancan denim, she also used pieces that came from cutting room left over pieces from friends that worked in design and manufacturing, sampled goods that never got used, garments she recycled, and even some dyed textiles that also came from other designer friends. Janie is a fan of using recycled garments and is very resourceful when it comes to her work. Janie likes to work with a wide variety of textures, and in this piece, she got creative with mixing textures like linens and velvets. By mixing these textures it creates an intriguing effect where the look actually changes as you walk around the piece. What she really wanted when making this design was for people to read texture when they see this piece. We couldn’t agree more that the mixture of textures can be so beautiful and you can really see how it comes to life in “Denim Squared."
"With my work, I really want people to read texture when they see it"
- Janie Stidham