Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Remembering Yvonne Porcella

This week we remember Yvonne Porcella who passed away February 12, 2016.  The founder of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates), her bright and whimsical work graced many of our exhibits for Dinner at Eight Artists.  

In addition to founding SAQA, Yvonne's legacy includes the impact that she has had on quilt artists across the globe through her 11 published books, workshops that she taught world-wide, and her bold personal style.  

Yvonne's bright smile and great sense of humor were known to all who were fortunate to meet her.  She was a great friend and mentor to the two of us.

We have collected all of her artist profiles from every year that we think you will enjoy reading.

Beneath the Surface - 2010

Yvonne Porcella - Modesto, CA 

1. How do you describe yourself? artist, author, teacher, lecturer, advocate for art quilting, founder of SAQA, board member for non-profit quilt organizations, quilt museum advocate, wonderful person, cancer survivor, grateful, very active in my spiritual life.
2. What is your creative process? I just go for it in most quilt designs. I have also done small sketches and enlarged those to size for my quilts made with applique over a full size cartoon.
3. What's your style? I only made one whole cloth quilt, my first attempts at a baby quilt gift. I have done all styles of quiltmaking except traditional or classic. Only quilt made for a bed was a commission for Jim Henson, all my quilts are made for the wall.
4. How long have you been a quilt maker/fiber artist? Do I have to tell you how long?
My work was published in many books and magazines probably before you were born.
5. Do you listen to music when you make art? I like silence. If I had to listen to music it would be classical and opera.
6. What do you do when you are blocked creatively? Make something, anything!
7. Do you teach? Yes. What’s your favorite part about teaching? I love meeting students, showing the path to making their own work. I also like to lecture on many subjects, wearable art, history of art quilts, personal journey.
8. Are there artistic endeavors that you have yet to do? Oh yea, I know there are more quilts in my future, just can't wait until they appear. I was an oil painter in the past, if I had to pick an area of improvement it probably would be in improving drawing skills and mastering photoshop.
9. How do you balance your family life and art? They balance me. When I first started making fiber art, I used each interruption by family or life as an opportunity to re-evaluate the work when I had the chance to return to my work space. When my children were old enough to enjoy a trip with me they were invited to see that Mom was indeed working while away from home.
10. What is the best part about what you do? The only thing I don't like to do is paperwork. Traveling and meeting people is the best part, making new friends is a gift. 

The Space Between 2011

Yvonne Porcella - Modesto & Arnold, CA

1. What do you call yourself - art wise? I am an artist and create original art quilts using a variety of fabrics and techniques. Through out my career, my work has been exhibited in many national and international exhibits and collected by public institutions and private collectors.
2. How do you jump start your creativity when you are in a slump? I experiment with a small work, using a new color scheme or different technique.

3. If money wasn't an issue, what would you do with your art? Contact Museums for exhibits and donations.

4. Do you keep a sketchbook, journal, etc.? I do have sketch books but I do not currently post daily thoughts or new concepts in a journal. I took a year off from my routine of a daily journal.
5. Where can people see your other work this year? My retrospective at San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles has closed in January; Stanford Art Spaces at Stanford University March to May 2011; Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts, April to July 2011; Mistlin Gallery Modesto, CA month of April 2011; C&T Publishing POD books; permanent installation at St. Mary's Hospital, San Francisco, CA Hayes at Stanyan Sts., framed art quilt located in Oncology Department; SAQA Gallery pages,; Beneath The Surface, International Quilt Festival/Cincinnati OH, April 2011.
6. Do you teach? where? on a cruise to the Baltic, May 2011; Camarillo Quilt Guild, November 2011.

7. Is there a particular artist who had influenced you in your art life? and why? I have many artist books that I refer to often: Stuart Davis, Jim Dine, Wayne Thiebald, Ivan Bilibin, Niki de Saint Phalle, Miriam Schapiro, Hundertwasser.
8. Where or what show do you hope your work will be in someday? Invitational one person show at any New York or San Francisco museum.
9. Describe your studio workspace. I am fortunate to have a beautiful large studio in a remote area with few distractions. All my supplies are there and easily accessible, and I have time to play!
10. What 3 tools could you not live without? Bernina Sewing Machine, Olfa rotary cutter/mat, scissors

11. What drives you to make the work that you do? I have the luxury of time, space, and ideas and after years of success, I fully commit myself to making art because it defines who I am
12. How do you balance your life? I have two places where I can live, one has a large studio where I work, the other has archival storage and access to stores. New supplies are not available near my studio so I spend one to two days a week stocking up on what I need, visiting friends, enjoying driving on remote roads and contemplating new ideas.

Rituals 2012

Artist Profile: Yvonne Porcella

Yvonne Porcella

Modesto and Arnold, California

1. What other ideas for this theme "rituals" did you have? The 1982 catalog for "Celebration A World of Art and Ritual" exhibition I visited at the Smithsonian was my starting point. The cover features an India grooms headdress that looks like an elaborate wedding cake. Attending 2 weddings last year also served as a theme.  Flower displays play a big part in rituals and seasonal festivals feature dances and games. A friend of mine attended an elaborate wedding requiring charter buses, elegant surroundings. What she remembers about the day was that even by 11 PM the bride and groom never cut the cake.  I just  had to add a knife to my design.  2.  Are you involved in any community or group projects where you donate your work?  if yes, what project or projects?

FotoFiber for ACS Virginia Spiegel; SAQA 12" squares; Alliance for American Quiilts, designed donation quilts; MD Anderson Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project; Stanislaus Arts Council; San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, High Fiber. 

3.  Do you belong to a small group of like-minded artists?  yes/no  name/where  what is the best part of being part of an art group?  No I don't belong to a small working group. My studio is in a remote area. I do belong to the Modesto chapter of the National League of American Pen Women as both a Writer and Artist member. We network, have artist and writers sharing along with exciting monthly speakers.
4.  Are you a member of a professional art organization, such as SAQA?  Have you ever held a volunteer position in the organization, and if so, what?  Interesting you asked! I am the founder of SAQA, served as President for 11 years. Formulated lots of the programs, did the first membership brochure, and first few years of newsletter 
mailings, First 12" square Art in a Box auction, all the pains and successes. I was also on the Board of Directors of The Alliance For American Quilts from it's development for 16 years, served as Secretary. Advisory Board of International Quilt Study Center Uof NE Lincoln, 2 terms. Current second term Board of Directors San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.
5.  What is your favorite palette of colors that you use in your work?  name 5 and your least favorite colors?  name 5.  Brights, reds, chartreuse, magenta along with black and white. Muddy colors, puce, greige, beige, pale pink, pale blue.
6.  Describe your creative work space in 20 words or less.  are you messy or tidy? Very neat, organized, everything folded, put away. Messy when creating.
7.  What is your creative process?  think, draw, design, make or right to the design?

Read, search my library, think, attack.
8.   Is there a particular object or shape that shows up repeatedly in your work?  Why? Black and white squares. It began in 1980 when I printed a book of my work in color. The printer recommended a dark and light value. It's become my signature as I've added it to most of my work. Recently someone sent me a note that while shopping for  fabric in a Pennsylvania quilt shop, two women were selecting fabrics for a new quilt when one suddenly exclaimed "Wait, we have to Yvonne Porcella it!"  Am I now a verb? 

9.   If you had to choose a favorite artist from another media, who would it be, and why? Charles Demuth because he liked the number 5.

10.  Have you written a book related to Art Quilts and Quilting or have an instructional DVD?  If so, can you tell us the title or titles?  9 books, 2 garment patterns, one Zine. Five Ethnic Patterns, Plus Five, Pieced Clothing, Pieced Clothing Variations, Yvonne Porcella -A Colorful Book, Colors Changing Hue, Six Color World, Yvonne Porcella Art and Inspiration, Magical Four and Nine Patch. Three Jacket Patterns, Designer Series Jacket Pattern. Zine One.
11.  Do you make art full time?   If you have another career, would you describe what you do? and how you incorporate art into your life? 
I have the luxury of making art at any time. Other than the non profit work I've done, during art my career I attended meetings, taught all over the country and in many foreign countries, sometimes being on the road for 1/2 the year. Currently I volunteer at our church, do some liturgy writing  as well as decorate our facilities and work in different ministries.

12.  What is your most thrilling news to date in relation to your art quilt life? 

January to April 2012, I had a Career Retrospective in a 3000 square foot gallery with a giant banner across the  front of the building featuring my name and one of my quilts, and I sold lots of art!  Another venue will exhibit half of the work summer 2012 

An Exquisite Moment 2013

Artist Profile: Yvonne Porcella

Yvonne Porcella
Modesto and Arnold, California

1,  What year did you make your first quilt?   1980 art purchased by Renwick Gallery Smithsonian Museum 1994
2.  What is the first show, and year, that you ever entered your art quilts?  1981 Venue? Quilt National
3.  What is your artistic style? seat of my pants, art quilt. First attempts were vertical stripes
4.  Have you ever changed your style from when you started making quilts? Many times, hand painted silks, solid color cotton fabrics in stripes, checkerboard blocks set on  point, figurative, cartoon, abstract silk fused.

5.  What other style in quilt making piques your interest? what I call quick clips, fused fabrics cut shapes and fill a space.
6.  What other medium in art influences your work as a fiber artist? I love to visit museums, fortunate to see many wonderful collections all over the world, I learn from each artist.
7.  What do you have coming up?  Shows, Articles in magazines, Books, etc. Article for June issue The Quilt Life, article for Health Contentment Life, local magazine. Three lectures in May. Plans for exhibit in 2014.
8.  Where will your art take you from here? It has taken me so far, I wonder what will come next. With recurrent Ovarian Cancer I just might continue writing my life story begun in 2010 when I was diagnosed.
9.  Describe your studio space: fabulous, you should come and visit me. One small room with design wall, storage, extra table for layout. Large room overlooks 40 acres of forest, large tables to work on and lots of stuff.
10. What was the biggest challenge you have encountered in the making of your art quilt for "An Exquisite Moment?" My first theme didn't resonate with me in terms of color and content. Reflecting on my fabulous trips to France and the experience of walking the path of Van Gogh in Arles, i was filled with the colors of the south of France, together with the emotion of  knowing Vincent  once walked where I had just been.

Reflections 2014

Artist Profile: Yvonne Porcella

Yvonne Porcella
Modesto, CA

1.  Describe your signature style in 5 words: bold, colorful, black white accent

2.  Do you ever work in another medium and, if so, what is it and what appeals to you about it?

Fabric painting, quick abstract designs, paint it, dry it, iron it, use it.  

3.  What's coming up for you in your artistic world? Solo exhibit at Quilt Market/Quilt Festival Houston 2014

4.  Do you have any studio rituals? No rituals, walk in, admire the view, get out materials, begin.

5.  Who has inspired you on your artistic journey?  Monet, Matisse, Stuart Davis, Goncharova, Bakst, Biliban, Frankenthaler.

6.  What are the 5 essential things in your studio that you cannot live without? Olfa cutter, mat, Mistyfuse, iron, scissors.

7.  What is on your design table right now? paperwork, jeans to hem, scraps from last project.

8.  How do you juggle your artistic life, family, friends, etc? Living in a remote area, not much to distract me; weekly trips for health issues. 

9.  Do you have any studio companions (human or otherwise)? I work alone, after studio time, a JRT occupies my lap. 

10.  What was the biggest challenge in creating your piece for Reflections? I didn't feel it was a challenge, I wanted to celebrate the water we take for granted, fears of drought, bodies of water drying up, expansive golden hills viewed on my weekly drives, seeing red 
Cal Fire trucks on the move, predictions of long dry hot summer. 
Affinity 2015

Artist Profile: Yvonne Porcella

Yvonne Porcella 

Modesto, CA 

1. Did the change in dimensions present any specific challenges for you?   No problem, I have used this size in my work since 1993

2. Describe your design area, specifically your work table:  what is the best thing about it? Add on room, width of the house,

custom made table, 4" x 8" W 39"H cork surface. At one end a 22" x 42"W x 27" sewing machine table. Quiet view of the forest.

3. What set this quilt apart from other recent projects you have been working on? A portion of the design hung on my wall for 2 years, it would greet me when I entered the room. I was tempted to mount it and frame it without stitching. I do not have unfinished projects, Affinity was the perfect time to finish it. 

4. When you get “stuck” how do you deal with a “design block”?  How do you overcome it? I would not call it a block, just take a minute to rethink the project. If needed get out my favorite art books for inspiration. 

5. Do you work on single or multiple projects at the same time? Only one at a time, comes from my years of being an operating room nurse. We only worked on one patient at a time. 

6. What do you hope people take away from your work? Be inspired, want to own it, remember the artists name!

7. What are the best parts of working on an art quilt:  What are your least favorite parts? Just letting it flow intuitively. no rules, no pressure for perfection. Sewing the sleeve on, following IQA rules, clipping threads. 

8. What art/quilt-related organizations do you belong to? SAQA. Alliance for American Quilts, IQA, San Jose Museum Quilts & Textiles, National League of American Pen woman.

9. Do you have a preferred color palette?  Why? Bright with red and black and white somewhere. I have visited many museums, seen fabulous artworks, a bit of red in the paintings draws my attention. 

10. What do you regard as your most interesting milestones along your art journey? Founding SAQA, serving on many quilt related Board of Directors, sharing my institutional memory, Quilter's Hall of Fame Inductee, Honoree of IQA, traveling to teach, museums acquiring my work, having career retrospectives, seeing my name and art work on a large banner outside an art center, having a dealer who sold my work.
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