Jas. (James) Mardis is an award winning inductee of The Texas Literary Hall of Fame, Family Historian and Fabric Artist based in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas area for the past 40 years. As a Fabric Artist Mardis marries the traditional quilting from his paternal Grandmother, Adla Phillips-Mardis, and traditional oral history and family story narratives of his maternal Grandmother, Luevenia Fears-Porchia. Mardis has created a new Narrative Tapestry. Blending his award-winning writing skills into each fabric creation creates a dynamic invitation to believe, as does he, that these fabrics have actual memories to share.
Mardis uses family heirloom linens, such as lace, bridge cloth, curtains and, specifically, cut work tablecloths in his current series, “Let The Tablecloth Speak”. He explores the idea that these fabrics keep our memories and stories as they absorb our essence and actual DNA over the course of their use at family gatherings.
This series is a base set of 12 core pieces that take on the narratives and remembrances of the most familiar family and friends. Mardis brings back the elders and those missing in expounding upon a single tablecloth’s bearing witness. There is a cotton sack wielding Great-Grandfather who challenges the idea that picking cotton was a demeaning task. Cotton brought the next generation into higher education.
Just as prominent are the missing members who are spoken of fondly and desperately. Mardis uses a leather-burned image of a front porch seated, absentee father who’s seat at this cloth was held, but never absorbed.
Another is the girl who flees home in the dead of night on Christmas Eve when she discovers herself pregnant. Her boyfriend’s car idles at the curb.
Mardis uses a photography technique to print the subject’s image into the fabric. The emerging image and new fabric speaks thru quilting, fabric painting, wood & leather burning and other Art Quilting techniques.
His narratives lay bare the witness that is the unique character of this new work. In “Sketches of Fatherhood” Mardis discharges the responsibility of holding up his absentee Father as a paper hero to his grandson.
“let him sketch you anew
a stick figure to muscle up
an outline to slowly finger trace
a life’s worth of spaces to fill…”
Another narrative is from the revered, saved spot at the head of the table for an elderly woman called “Ms. Ruby”. Her narrative speaks solely in love,
“I’ll take the child”
Her words are a saving grace that simply made this gathering of generations possible.
Supporting the tablecloth Narratives are eight “stories-in-waiting”. They hang just off center, like children who’ve outgrown the kiddie table.
Their stories stir and vie for a seat at the Family Story Table:
Among them is a girl who’s dress was tobacco spit as she walked the town square. Her Father has loaded his shotgun. Her Mother is crying.
Another, small tapestry, indicating a barely remembered story, shows a man holding the “slave horn”. He is giving the recipe for “Haint-blue” paint that keeps evil away.
Among the others are two girls finding each other as best friends during The Great Arkansas Flood of 1932…in line for food and lye soap…in February.
There’s more, so much more to see, hear and share in this 22 piece series from Jas. Mardis.
For more information on how to schedule an exhibition or Artist Talk with Jas. Mardis send your inquiry to the following email MardisArt940@gmail.com