University of Southern Indiana

Filth and Foulness 2021 - Jackson Cieslack

Joan of Arc

Paint on canvas, March 2021

Artist Statement: Joan of Arc (Jeanne D’Arc) is one of the most recognizable, and one of the few, female names in history. During the brutal fight of the Hundred Years’ War, Joan, at only 13 years old, received a revelation while standing in her garden. In this divine intervention, she was told that she was the one who would lead the French to victory and help ensure that Charles VII would be crowned king of France. She cut off her hair and posed as a man to join the army at a time when women were not allowed to do so. She was eventually discovered as a woman but not before leading the French to win many battles in the war and eventually turn the entire war in favor of a French victory. The English captured her, and she was burned at the stake in Rouen, France in May of 1431. She was eventually proclaimed a martyr and eventually became the Catholic Church’s patron saint of France.

Joan of Arc is praised for her ability as a woman to thrive and succeed greatly as a soldier, a job that, at the time and even still today, is seen as a job only men are capable of. Joan is also held to a higher standard than others. Depictions of Joan strip her of her womanhood and almost always show her accompanied by religious symbols. In this painting, I wanted to show Joan in a way that is less comfortable and more accurate. In my painting, Joan is portrayed at the time of her death, being burned at the stake. It is very similar to all other depictions of Joan, but she is stripped of all religious symbols. She is also shown with hair growing from her armpits and her white dress is soaked with menstrual blood around her pelvic area. This shows Joan as a more accurate image of a woman but simultaneously shows her as what modern society would describe as filthy or foul. We, as a society, fail to recognize Joan as a normal woman who still experienced menstrual cycles and probably did not shave her body to fit modern beauty standards. This depiction of Joan of Arc to some may seem repulsive or unnerving but it is accurate to a woman of her time and of modern times.

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