Joan of Arc: A Quilter's Inspiration
Joan of Arc, 27"X27", by Loris Bogue. Photo courtesy of Loris Bogue
For six centuries, the story of Joan of Arc (1412-1431) has captivated all who hear it. The unschooled peasant girl who, at the age of 16, led the French army to important victories over the English in the Hundred Years' War; who broke the siege of the city of Orleans; who, though illiterate, discombobulated the most learned religious minds of her era; who was burned at the stake for heresy when she was 19 years old; and who was posthumously declared innocent and made a saint, has long since become the stuff of legend.
Each May, the city of Orleans, France celebrates the lifting of the long-ago siege with a huge festival culminating in a sound and light show projected on the city's Gothic cathedral to celebrate Joan's life. Each January 6th, the city of New Orleans, Louisiana celebrates Joan's birthday and kicks off the Mardi Gras season with a parade of revelers dressed in medieval costumes winding their way through crowds in the French Quarter.
Joan of Arc is the patron saint of France as well as the patron of martyrs; captives; people ridiculed for their piety; prisoners; soldiers, women who have served in the WAVES (Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service) and WAC (Women's Army Corps); and people who hear voices.
Politicians of every stripe in countries throughout the world have attempted to claim her influence, and she has inspired all manner of artistic and cultural interpretations, including everything from novels, poems, rock songs, operas, plays, movies, and television shows to even video games.
Little wonder, then, that she should inspire a quilter as well. Loris Bogue is a Los Angeles, California-based textile artist who was moved to depict Joan of Arc in fabric. In 2007, when the Fiberarts Connection (a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support and professional development for emerging fiber artists) organized a challenge called “She Made Her Mark,” Loris decided to enter a piece in the exhibit.
In searching for a woman who had made an impact on history, Loris came across the story of Joan of Arc. “I didn't know that much about her until I started reading,” Loris says. “I realized that she truly was a remarkable person who had made a lasting impression on the world.”
Loris decided to challenge herself by employing non-realistic colors to portray her subject. Using batiks and some hand-dyed fabrics, Loris fashioned a brilliantly hued Joan astride a horse and carrying a standard.
The image is set against an outline map in the shape of France, rendered in a black-and-white check fabric reminiscent of the tile floors in many French cathedrals. The 27" x 27" piece was juried into the exhibit, and later was displayed at The Quilter's Hall of Fame in Marion, Indiana.
Sewing and making clothing since she was 12, Loris came to quilting in 1984, when a co-worker encouraged her to take a class at a local quilt shop. Loris did so, making an Ohio Star by hand. That one quilt was enough to hook her on the artform.
Her work has since been widely exhibited throughout the United States and has been featured in books and magazines. After a few years of making traditional quilts, Loris transitioned to art quilts. “I like a challenge and even though I love traditional patterns, I have more fun when I don't know what the final quilt will look like until it's finished,” she laughs.
Joan of Arc didn't follow traditional patterns either and she was definitely known for taking on a challenge. It's not hard, then, to see how her legacy would resonate with a quilter like Loris.
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