Obituary: Josephine E. Diggs – Portland Press Herald

Josephine E. Diggs

PORTLAND – Jo Diggs, 86, an original left-handed soul, beloved mother, grandmother, artist, teacher and gardener, died peacefully September 10, 2022 at home surrounded by her loving family.

She was fiercely independent, with a brilliant, logical, ethical and creative mind and a keen sense of humor. Her sole purpose was to make art and teach creativity. Her friends and family also knew that she was hardworking, generous and tough. The meals at his table were always festive and entertaining. His garden was free and wild with just enough traditional structure. She loved to dig in the dirt and proudly made herself known as a propagator at a local nursery.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Saturday morning classes for elementary school children at the Carnegie Museum were Jo’s first introduction to art. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1958 with a BA in Art History and earned a Masters in Art Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She first taught art in Lexington, Ma., then in Memphis, Tennessee. A move to Albuquerque, NM in the 1960s introduced her to a vibrant community of artists, cotton fabrics from Mexico and Molas made by the indigenous people of Panama. This convergence was the foundation of Jo’s career as a textile artist and later as a contemporary quilter, well known for her landscapes of layered fabrics. Her work was published in 1973 in “Creating Body Coverings” by Jean Ray Laurey and Joyce Aiken, which launched her career in contemporary art textiles. Later in life, Jo traveled throughout the United States and Canada teaching and lecturing in her applied landscape technique.

Jo’s work has been exhibited in the United States, around the world and has been widely published, including: “Fiber Arts Magazine, Beyond the Horizon” by Valerie Hearder 1995, “The Quilt” by Michael Friedman 1997 , “Visions” 1998, “American Quilter” summer 1998, “Skydyes” by Mickey Lawler 1999, “Quilters Newsletter” 2000, featured artist in “Yankee Magazine” 2015 and “Maine Quilts” by Laureen LaBar 2021. She has frequently participated in the Houston Quilt Festival and was honored with a retrospective exhibit at the Vermont Quilt Festival in 2013. Her “Steel Gardens” quilt was included in the Expo 1990 International Quilt Exhibit, earning an honorable mention. was included in the Portland Museum of Art’s 2001 Biennial and “Snowscape”, a woolen quilt, is in the permanent collection of the National Quilt Museum, Paducah, Ky. and can be viewed at .

Jo will be sadly missed by her family and friends, especially her daughters Dorothy W. Diggs; and Maude M. Andrade, her husband German and MoJo’s beloved grandson, Tayne. She will also be missed by her two nieces, Jennifer Grannis; and Eliza G. Lussier and her husband Ron.

Jo was predeceased by her sister, Dorothy E. Grannis and lovingly became MoJo for Eliza’s children, Paul, Lucien and Rose. She was predeceased by her ex-husband, John S. Diggs; and is survived by her ex-husband, Nick Humez.

Jo wanted to thank her doctors, caregivers, and staff at Hospice of Southern Maine for the compassionate end-of-life care and support she and her family received.

No service will take place at Jo’s request. A private celebration will take place at a later date.

Look for her quilts to be included in an exhibit at the New England Quilt Museum in 2024.

Please visit to sign Jo’s online guestbook.

Donations may be made in honor of his memory to the Maine Crafts Association.

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