The Ecstasy of St. Joan

A femme bodied person, illuminated by blue, pink, and gold light, wears steel plate armor and stands facing front, eyes gently closed and head slightly turned into their own hand, which is caressing their face. They have medium brown skin and black hair, and entwined in the fingers of their hands are devotional beads. Around their head is a circular halo, upon which is written “I am the angel and there is no other.” Within the halo there are many lush flowers, and these flowers surround and caress the head of Joan. There is prismatic light suffusing the scene with a background of subtle indigo, and small, graceful, glowing motes of dust, or stars, or glittering orbs of violet and golden and chartreuse light, surrounding the figure.

The Ecstasy of St. Joan. Completed July 15, 2022.

From the transcript of the trial of Jeanne D’Arc: “Jeanne replied she would not receive the Eucharist by changing her costume for a woman’s; she asked to hear Mass in her male attire, adding that it did not burden her soul.”

Bodily autonomy as Holy Edict. Freedom unyoked by God or State. Self-Divinity, whole, joyous,  and eternal.

Bodily autonomy has been weighing heavily on me (and on most women, trans, & queer people in the US). Joan has always been a figure of devotion for me. Most don’t know that she was executed as a relapsed heretic *because* she refused gender conformity. I paint Joan (or a Joan-like figure) free from God or State, in the power and joy of the fullness of their expression.

“Her judges gave her hope that she would be allowed to hear Mass if she would finally put off man’s dress and wear female attire, as befits her sex. She would not agree, and preferred not to take Communion and the holy offices, rather than abandon this [male] dress.”

“We questioned her to find out [why] she had resumed man’s dress and rejected woman’s clothes. Asked why she had resumed it, and who had compelled her to wear it, she answered that she had taken it of her own will, under no compulsion, as she preferred man’s to woman’s dress.

The charge: “The report has now become well known that this woman, utterly disregarding what is honourable in the female sex, breaking the bounds of modesty, and forgetting all female decency, has disgracefully put on the clothing of the male sex, a striking and vile monstrosity.”

One of her final words before her execution was this: “I was the angel, and there was no other.” This (though likely referring to her martial success for France) drew me into a beautiful possible world for Joan, where she could be her own Holy Angel.