The Carnegie Arts Center is dedicated to recognizing excellence in regional artists through its Distinguished Artist program, an annual event that includes an award and retrospective exhibition for the honoree.
“We are extremely proud to honor Yvonne Porcella in this first year,” says Rebecca Phillips Abbott, Executive Director and Curato. “She is a remarkable textile artist whose works today are in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the de Young Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Art & Design in New York, NY, the Phoenix Art Museum, and numerous others.”
The Carnegie’s retrospective exhibit will trace Porcella’s career from her earliest works up to and including the present.
“In the process we are all given the opportunity to celebrate and honor a life’s work,” says Abbott.
A native Californian, Porcella was born in Watsonville, CA, studied nursing at the University of San Francisco, graduated in 1958 and worked part-time as an operating room nurse until 1979, and raised four children with her husband, Bob. All the while, she was also working as an artist.
Porcella’s gift for artistic expression began in the 1960s with observations that the same fabrics were used again and again in the garments people were wearing. She began spinning her own thread, weaving her own fabrics, and making her own garments, and was soon involved in the Conference of Northern California Handweavers. In these early years, Porcella was influenced by ethnic clothing, primarily from Guatemala and by pieced and embroidered textiles from Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. In 1972 she had her first exhibition of weavings and wearable art. In 1977 she published Five Ethnic Patterns, followed by an ethnic pattern book Plus Five then Pieced Clothing in 1980 and by Pieced Clothing Variations in 1981. More publications would follow, including Yvonne Porcella: Art & Inspirations, published in 1998.
Her shift from weaving to quiltmaking began when she started to make garments out of patchwork. In 1979 she attended the West Coast Quilter’s Conference and by the following year she had completely stopped weaving. It was a pivotal moment, so much so that she can tell you the date and time she last wove: 28 April 1980 at 8:30 in the morning. By 1981, she had created "Takoage," her first art quilt which was later acquired by the Smithsonian Institution for its Renwick Gallery, located across the street from the White House in Washington, DC. It was a promising start for Porcella who rapidly emerged as a visionary force artistically and in the art quilt movement as a whole. As founder of the Studio Art Quilts Association and President of the Board of Directors, she worked tirelessly in those early years to establish art quilting as an artistic genre in its own right.
Besides all the great works Abbott had expected to show at Porcella’s exhibit, she was pleased to announce that she was just surprised with a special addition on tonight.
“I learned that an owner of a monumental quilt, “Answering the Riddle,” decided to loan it to us,” said Abbott. “I had resigned myself to the fact that we wouldn’t have it in the exhibit, and it’s probably Porcella’s most important work along with “Dick and Jane.”
Porcella’s exhibit will run from January 18, 2012 through March 14, 2012, at the Carnegie Arts Center, Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. There is a $5 admission fee (member discounts apply) while children under 12 are get in free.
YVONNE PORCELLA: DOGS, FROGS AND CHERUBS, Artist Lecture Series
Sunday, February 5, 2:00pm – Free
Yvonne Porcella is the Carnegie’s Distinguished Artist for 2012, and featured in a retrospective exhibition. Her lecture is Dogs, Frogs and Cherubs. She will talk about her many inspirations in creating unique, contemporary textile arts.
YVONNE PORCELLA: GALLERY TALK
Sunday February 19, 4:30pm Free
Artist Yvonne Porcella, will be giving a gallery talk about her works on view in the current Distinguished Artist retrospective exhibition. Don’t miss this chance to meet the artist, hear stories about her work and career, and have the opportunity to ask questions. The gallery will be open until 6:00pm this evening.