(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #92, August 2021. Written by Rita Farro.)
Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. (SAQA) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt: a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.
In their first 30 years, SAQA has grown into a dynamic and active community of 4,000 artists, curators, collectors, and art professionals all over the world. Their vision is that the art quilt is universally respected as a fine art medium.
Their website, Studio Art Quilt Associates, is astonishing. If you click on Events, you’ll find page after page listing scores of exhibitions and calls for entry. One of the most impressive features on the website is their online collection of over 3,500 pieces of artwork that showcase the beauty and diversity of the art quilt medium. They have also put together a curated selection of online galleries.
So, how did this dynamic international organization get its start?
There is no question that California quilt artist Yvonne Porcella is the Mother of the Art Quilt movement. In 1989, Porcella launched Studio Art Quilt Associates from her kitchen table. She sent letters to 50 artists and friends to rally them to her cause. Her goal was to establish a place for art quilts in the world of contemporary art.
The vision was to create an organization to:
- Promote art quilts to major art publications, museums, and galleries.
- Educate the public about art quilts
- Serve as a forum for the professional development of quilt artists.
- Act as a resource for curators, dealers, consultants, teachers, students, and collectors.
Those initial 50 members were mostly Yvonne’s friends and fellow teachers. Members within driving distance of Modesto, California helped her put out a mimeograph newsletter to attract new members. Their membership slowly grew. Porcella served as president for the first 11 years.
The current President, Deborah Boschert, says, Yvonne really had such a vision and clarity about our work being elevated as fine art. I think she knew it was going to take all of us working together, valuing our work, teaching others, welcoming others.
When Martha Sielman became the Executive Director in 2004, SAQA had 804 members. With the help of the internet, their membership has grown to over 4,000 members all over the world.
Click HERE to read the full story.