"I especially thank Ardis for believing in all of us."
- Susan Shie, studio quilt artist
Ardis Maree Butler (December 5, 1925 - July 7, 2011) was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and raised in Lincoln and Omaha. She married Robert G. James of Ord, Nebraska, in 1949, and they raised three children: Robert Jr., Catherine, and Ralph. They made their home in Chappaqua, New York.
Ardis James, expressed her lifelong love for fabric and needlework in her own quiltmaking, ownership of a fabric store, and most significantly, in the quilt collection she and Robert built together. Their large and important collection became the founding donation that sparked the establishment of the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1997.
Ardis and Robert James were among the first to collect the work of contemporary studio artists who began, in the late 1970s, to make nontraditional quilts as works of art. Pauline Burbidge, a UK studio quilt artist, expressed the impact of their support: “This recognition meant a great deal to me and has helped give me the confidence and drive to continue with my quiltmaking career.” Linda MacDonald, another studio quilt artist, noted regarding Ardis: “Her inclusive love for diverse quilt forms was very inspiring.”
After Ardis’s death, seventeen artists donated twenty-six studio art quilts to the IQSCM in her honor. A selection from this significant and personal tribute is presented here in celebration of Ardis’s life and her generous and affirming spirit.