Artist: Noah Massey
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 111.7 x 73.7 cm
Location: Private Collection.
TWENTY SAINTS IN TWENTY DAYS: PART 10 – ST JOAN OF ARC
Saint Joan of Arc or The Maid of Orléans (c. 1412 – 30 May 1431) is considered a national heroine of France and a Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed Divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War and paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII. She later testified that she experienced her first vision around 1424 at the age of 12 years, when she was out alone in a field and saw visions of figures she identified as Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret, who told her to drive out the English and bring the Dauphin to Rheims for his coronation. She said she cried when they left, as they were so beautiful. A remarkable military leader, often ignoring the commands of her fellow military leaders and war councils, she lead soldiers and peasants alike against the English to victory. Though she was continuously belittled and disregarded by men of her own rank she was renowned by the men who served under her for her behavior both on and off the battle field. She was captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English, tried by an ecclesiastical court, and burned at the stake on May 30th, 1431, when she was nineteen years old.
Joan is presented to us in an image the encompasses her conflicting aspects. A pubescent girl, her cheeks are rosy and childlike, almost a cherub, but in her eyes are full of wisdom. Though her hand rests on a sword, prepared at any moment to battle, she is surrounded by an army that look like toys from another era. But the flames that surround her remind us that she was not just a little girl playing with toys, but a warrior, who followed the impetus of her visions, and who died an agonizing martyrs death.
Noah Massey is a contemporary American painter and graphic artist. As part of an artist’s statement, Noah writes: “I am interested in the dual nature of existence. What I have read concerning Catholic Saints has stressed their ability to separate and overcome the destruction of their bodies. These stories of martyrdom, torture and temptation demonstrate, in the extreme, the equality of all mankind in suffering. My paintings are not the whole story of the saint they represent. The works are instead my interpretation of overcoming and reunification. Some of the saints, in the midst of their bodily destruction, find salvation in humor, stoicism, defiance, generosity, and preparation. Utilizing contemporary graffiti styles and items of modern fashion the paintings draw a comparison between modern existence and that of the beatified who lived from the 2nd to 11th centuries. The paintings create a psychological space that is abundant with pain but free of panic, the place where decisions of fate and faith are made. It is my desire to create paintings that seduce the viewer into believing that impossible challenges and trials can be overcome, even by the weakest of us.” More information can be found on Noah’s website at http://noahmassey.com/