Josephine E. Diggs

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

She was fiercely independent, with a brilliant, logical, ethical, and creative mind and sharp sense of humor. She had a single-minded focus to make art and teach creativity. Friends and family also knew her to be hardworking, generous, and tough. Meals at her table were always festive and entertaining. Her garden was free and wild with just enough traditional structure. She loved to dig in the dirt and proudly became known as a propagator at a local nursery.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pa., Saturday morning classes for grade school children at the Carnegie Museum were Jo’s first introduction to art. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1958 with a B.A. in Art History and earned a master’s in Teaching Art at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She taught art first in Lexington, Ma., and later in Memphis, Tenn. A move to Albuquerque, N.M. in the 1960s introduced her to a vibrant artist community, cotton fabric from Mexico and Molas made by the indigenous people of Panama. This convergence was the foundation of Jo’s career as a fiber artist and later as a contemporary quilter, well-known for her layered fabric landscapes. Her work was published in the 1973 “Creating Body Coverings” by Jean Ray Laurey and Joyce Aiken, which launched her career in contemporary art textiles. Later in life, Jo traveled across the U.S. and Canada teaching and lecturing on her appliqué landscape technique.

Jo’s work has been exhibited in the U.S., internationally, and has been in numerous publications 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 frequently participated in the Houston Quilt Festival and was honored with a retrospective exhibit at the Vermont Quilt Festival in 2013. Her quilt “Steel Gardens” was included in the International Exhibition of Quilts Expo 1990, earning honorable mention. Her “Many Winters” quilt was included in the 2001 Portland Museum of Art Biennial and “Snowscape”, a wool quilt, is in National Quilt Museum, Paducah, Ky. permanent collection and they can be seen at

Jo will be deeply missed by her family and friends, especially by 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 to Eliza’s children Paul, Lucien, and Rose. She was predeceased by her ex-husband, John S. Diggs; and survived by her ex-husband, Nick Humez.

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

No services will be held at Jo’s request. A private celebration will be held a later date.

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

Please visit to sign Jo’s online guest book.

Donations can be made to honor her memory to the Maine Crafts Association.

Share your condolences, kind words and remembrances below. You must be logged into the website to comment. Subscribers, please login. Not a subscriber? Register to comment for free or subscribe to support our work.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.