I’ve been asked by people to explain Joan, saying it’s an atypical piece, not something they’d expect in a devotional painting. Though I know what they mean, I don’t often explain my work, opting to keep my mouth shut and let the viewer discover what they discover - if they come up with a story better than mine well, it’s easy to say, “exactly.”
Joan is a departure for me. A work specifically Catholic and the first of what will be many more Catholic devotional works. It is a work for me that says I am going in this direction; I understand that direction, its implications and I’m not going back. You might say I found some of the conviction that Joan had, though the consequences for me are far less dire.
It is my aim to express the maximum story with as few devices as possible, so the elements I use have to be used in a way that propels a story forward and carries with it the power of an image that allows the user to return and find new meanings. I am drawn to great devotional works of the past but often find the figures to be staid and distant, apart from us as if there is some barrier in between. But those saints were us once upon a time, people with doubt, imperfect and afraid. Perhaps only the gift of grace separated them from us? When I look at my daughter who posed for Joan, I see a young woman with all the potential attributes of this saint absent the circumstance of the great moral choice. I want to portray them as closer to us, real and approachable just as I want to imagine myself closer to them. That is essentially the point of this work and the works to come.
We live in a time where we long to see such people. In our indifferent, hostile world they seem hidden from our site. But that is not the truth. The hostile, indifferent world hides from us our own potential to become these people, to be a saint, to be something more than we are for some cause out beyond our own circumstance
That is what this work is about, and all the elements are there to tell you the tale if you look closely. And, there are other messages too, but those are for you to discover and consider. She is showing you the way.