In Memory of YP

Beloved quilt world legend Yvonne Porcella died on Friday. She will be greatly missed by her family and friends and by so many in the quilt world–her fellow artists, her students, her colleagues at SAQA and the Quilt Alliance.

Yvonne (or YP as many called her) was documented by the Quilt Alliance and its partners via projects like Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories (Q.S.O.S.), Go Tell It at the Quilt Show!, Quilt Treasures and The Quilt Index (see excerpts below). The vibrancy of her work and her spirit were exciting and magnetic, and the YP brand was easy to spot–bright red and/or pink and always a black and white element (be it a quilt binding or a pair of socks, pants
or glasses).
YvonnePorcellaMany of our sister organizations have also documented and honored Yvonne. (Find links to these resources at the end of this post.) In 1989, Yvonne founded the Studio Art Quilt Associates organization and remained committed to its mission until her death. In 1998, she was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame in Marion, Indiana. That same year, Yvonne was named the 5th recipient of the Silver Star Award at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas.

Yvonne was very supportive of the Quilt Alliance’s newest project, Go Tell It at the Quilt Show! which debuted in 2012. We recorded two Go Tell It!’s with Yvonne in 2014: the first during SAQA’s 25th anniversary conference in Alexandria, Virginia and the second at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas.

Yvonne’s life and work was documented by the Quilt Treasures project in 2002. Quilt Treasures, a joint project of the Quilt Alliance, Michigan State University Museum and MATRIX Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, documented the stories of a limited number of notable individuals – quiltmakers, designers, business people, collectors, scholars, publishers – who were instrumental in moving the 20th century quilt revival forward in some significant way.

Yvonne’s Quilt Treasures Web Portrait includes a photo gallery, biography and timeline, and features a Mini Documentary video and Interview clips (below):

Yvonne Porcella Mini-Documentary

Interview clips

 

As a founding board member of the Quilt Alliance, Yvonne contributed to many aspects of the organization’s projects and initiatives, including co-founding the Alliance quilt contest. In 2006, she worked with Karen Musgrave to launch this annual fundraising and documentary effort, and since then, artists from the United States and around the world have created and donated 872 quilts to support the Quilt Alliance. For the past nine  years, Yvonne has made and donated one or more of her own quilts to the contest. Here are those quilts, now documented both on the Quilt Alliance website as well as in The Quilt Index.

 

Yvonne’s struggle with cancer was long and daunting. As a former nurse, she knew her body and her illness with precision. She managed to stay incredibly positive in the face of her prognosis, and maintained a lightness of being and sense of humor that fueled her fight.

Yvonne explaining Quilt Match Manhattan to the crowd at Quilters Take Manhattan 2013.

Yvonne explaining Quilt Match Manhattan to the crowd at Quilters Take Manhattan 2013. She was one of the judges and dressed appropriately in black and white stripes (part of that spunky YP brand).

When Yvonne had to cancel her presentation at the Quilt Alliance’s 2015 Quilters Take Manhattan event, it was not her battle with cancer that prevented her from attending. She called me, laughing, about a week before the event to explain that she had dropped a giant bottle of ketchup on her foot and her doctor wouldn’t let her fly in that condition. She even texted me the photo of her foot as we talked, so we could mock the situation together with proper visual aides.

SG_AmyMilne_YvonnePorcella

Yvonne making me (and anyone within earshot) laugh at Quilters Take Manhattan 2014.

Keeping up with the latest technology, while never losing touch with handwork was a central theme in her optimism and excitement for the future. In this Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories interview conducted on November 29, 1999, Yvonne talks about anticipating the Twentieth Century.

1999QSOS

Q.S.O.S. Interview, Nov. 29, 1999. International Quilt Festival, Houston, Texas.

Interviewer, Jeri Baldwin: What have you done with thinking about the Twentieth Century in your work and your teaching? What do you think you’ll change, or will you want to change, or what do you want to leave the same? What are you going to take into the Twenty-first Century as a quilter and as a teacher?

Yvonne Porcella: I’m still going to take the passion I have for doing it by hand. I’m going to take the passion of creating something totally for myself, that pleases myself, that comes from myself. I am not interested in scanning it on the computer. I am not interested in coloring it on the computer. Because to me the reason I am an artist, which was very difficult for me to even reach that point where that I can verbalize it because I was trained as a nurse. I was trained as a mother, as a grandmother and to be an artist was to say to people, ‘Well, I think I am an artist although I am not academically trained.’ But I have a passion and I know that if I don’t do the work that I’d be unhappy. So for me the twenty-first century will be similar to the twentieth century because I will continue to work until I can no longer work. The wonderful part of being an artist is that the wonderful ideas never stop so the concept of the creativity that will be produced in the–however long I am going to live is very exciting to me.

On behalf of the board, staff and membership of the Quilt Alliance, I want to send my condolences to Yvonne’s family.

Rest in peace, dear friend, colleague and treasure. You inspired us to be our Best.

Please leave your own remembrance of Yvonne below in the comments.

"The Best", 2014, "Inspired By" contest.

“The Best”, 2014, “Inspired By” contest.

Those who would like to make a tax-deductible gift to the Quilt Alliance in Yvonne’s honor can make a secure donation online via credit card or PayPal here:
http://www.allianceforamericanquilts.org/support/donate.php

Or mail a check, payable to Quilt Alliance to:
Quilt Alliance
67 Broadway Street, Suite 200
Asheville, NC 28801

Please indicate “In Honor of Yvonne Porcella” in the memo or description line.
You can contact us here: admin@quiltalliance.org or 828-251-7073

More online resources about Yvonne Porcella:

Studio Art Quilt Associates
Quilters Hall of Fame
The Quilt Show.com
Yvonne Porcella’s website
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Twisted Sister (blog of Jamie Fingal)
Pokey’s Ponderings (blog of Pokey Bolton)
Video interview with Yvonne recorded by Lisa Ellis in November 2015
C&T Publishing

Amy Milne headshot

Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance
amy.milne@quiltalliance.org

This entry was posted in Alliance Quilt Contests, Go Tell It at the Quilt Show!, Q.S.O.S., Quilt Alliance board member post, Quilt Index, Quilt Treasures by quiltalliance. Bookmark the permalink.

About quiltalliance

The Quilt Alliance is a nonprofit 501c3 organization established in 1993 whose mission is to document, preserve, and share our International quilt heritage by collecting the rich stories that historic and contemporary quilts, and their makers, tell about our nation's diverse peoples and their communities. In support of this mission, the Alliance brings together quilt makers and designers, the quilt industry, quilt scholars and teachers, and quilt collectors to further the following goals: To promote the understanding of the quilt as an important grassroots art form. To make information about quilts available to a broad public. To educate the public about the importance of documenting quilts and quiltmakers so that their stories will not be lost.

10 thoughts on “In Memory of YP

  1. Yvonne’s work over the years screamed of her love of color and life and fortunately she was able to capture that in her works and share it with the world. She, her smile and her fun attitude will be sorely missed. My heart goes out to all her family and close friends. Hoping that what she has left behind will fill the void that you are feeling today.

  2. I loved working with Yvonne on the Quilt Alliance Board – she was funny, creative, always willing to share, smart, clever and oh so much more. Her artwork was such an expression of her personality – bright, colorful, and vibrant. She will be missed but she lives on through all of her beautiful quilt art. I will think of her every time I see a brightly colored quilt done in YP style.
    Kathie Johnson

  3. I am so sorry for her passing. I never took a class from her, never heard her lecture, but had a friend who did and through her I felt I knew her. I have followed her work ever since n have a few books of hers. What an incredible fabric artist, I loved everything she did.
    Condolences to family and dear friends. The Whole quilting community has just had a great loss.

  4. I took a class with Yvonne at Quilt Festival in 1999. I had no idea who she was at that time and remember taking WHITE backgrounds to her improv applique. It was such a laugh once I realized her love of color. She has inspired me to just let things go and I still have that piece and will treasure it. Yvonne, you will be missed.

  5. I took 2 classes from Yvonne in the late 1990’s. She helped me to be inspired even though I was a very new quilter. Thank you, Yvonne for your joy, laughter, and understanding of the world around us. I still remember those classes and the joy of quilting with her.

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