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World Artisan: Jo Diggs

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A Stitch in Time

Portland, Maine, quilter creates warmth in her artwork.

By Emma Trelles

Admirers of Jo Diggs’ quilts have insisted that what she’s making are really paintings. It’s easy to see why. The fabric artist’s inspired assemblages are miles away from the typical diamonds, shepherd girls, and sweet little radishes usually seen on the quintessentially cozy blanket. Instead, Diggs offers gorgeous, atmospheric panels of fabrics that appear as windows to the natural world. “What I care most about,” says Diggs, “is that a piece of art is alive.”
In Diggs’ art quilt Spring, for example, an ethereal palette suggests a vista evolving one delicate patch at a time, and diagonal stitching imitates the soft and steady rain that fuels the season. Many Winters, a 62” x 82” hand-quilted piece, turns a lens toward the icy palettes and stripped, almost mystical birches found in Portland, Maine, where Diggs lives and makes her work in a study stuffed with “boxes and boxes of thread, a wood stove, many books, dried flowers, and a thousand pictures that I save.
“All artists keep visual files of actual things,” she says. “There’s an element….

 

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Photo: Jay Stearns/Accent Productions

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