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Column #88

Joan of Arc: A Quilter's Inspiration

Joan of Arc
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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Archived blogs:

Column 149: Rosie’s Redwork
Column 148: The Quilt of Belonging
Column 147: Kanthas—The Quilts of Bangladesh
Column 146: Patterns
Column 145: Suzy on Carolyn Mazloomi's Groundbreaking Quilt Exhibit
Column 144: Texas Community Marks Juneteenth Sesquicentennial with History Quilts
Column 143: Maya Embroidered Patchwork
Column 142: Huipil Patchwork Quilts
Column 141: Tom Korn’s Military Medal Quilts
Column 140: The Return of Double Knits!
Column 139: Passage Quilts
Column 138: Home of the Brave Quilts
Column 137: The Story of Fabric Yo-Yos
Column 136: Christmas in July
Column 135: Trifles
Column 134: Deaf Initiatives—Communicating Through Quilts
Column 133: My Betty Boop Quilt
Column 132: Maura Grace Ambrose
Column 131: All You Need Is Love
Column 130: Chicken Linens
Column 129: The Quilted Chuppah
Column 128: Patchwork Around the World: Yoruba Dance Costumes
Column 127: The Bowers Co-Op Quilts
Column 126: Fon Appliqué and Haitian Voodoo Flags
Column 125: The Quilt Garden at The North Carolina Arboretum
Column 124: Harriet Powers and Handful’s Mauma
Column 123: Quilters de Mexico
Column 122: An Appliquéd Surprise
Column 121: Matisse’s Fabric Stash
Column 120: Soogan—The Cowboy’s Quilt
Column 119: The Ron Swanson Quilt
Column 118: HClarkdale, Georgia—A Thread of History
Column 117: How WWI Changed the Color of Quilts in the United States
Column 116: Wagga—The Bushman’s Quilt
Column 115: All in the Family
Column 114: The Alabama State Quilt
Column 113: Balloon Quilts of Albuquerque
Column 112: The Family That Quilts Together, Stays Together
Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
Column 109: Community Cookbooks and Fundraiser Quilts—Parallel Histories
Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
Column 105: A Call for a National Juneteenth Commemorative Quilt
Column 104: Dominoes
Column 103: 1936 Texas Centennial Bluebonnet Quilt
Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
Column 101: Montana CattleWomen Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery

See other archived columns here

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