French heroine Joan of Arc (1412-1431) has been captivating and motivating Santa Fe artist Sandra Filippucci for close to 30 years. Filippucci’s passion for everything related to Joan of Arc began 28 years ago after she entered a church in Les Genettes, France.
Filippucci strongly felt Joan of Arc’s presence as she wandered around the little-known church. “I decided then and there to get acquainted,” she says.
Joan of Arc has been the primary subject in Filippucci’s art since that pivotal experience in the late 1980s. Filippucci’s cozy studio on the east side of Santa Fe is filled with images of Joan of Arc, many of which are hand worked archival pigment prints. “I have thousands of 3-D images of Joan of Arc on my computer,” she adds.
There are many reasons why Filippucci is enamored with Joan of Arc. “She had no formal education, but she dictated remarkable letters about peace,” she explains. “She was ignorant of the world, and yet she changed it. Her short life (she died around the age of 19) was filled with wisdom. I go through phases with her. Sometimes she’s a little girl, a vulnerable woman or a soldier.”
Filippucci was an artist long before Joan of Arc became her muse. She was traditionally trained at the Paier College of Art in Connecticut and the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.
While she was an art student at Paier College of Art, she worked as a scientific illustrator at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. She also was hired by American anthropologist Peter David Joralemon to draw sacred objects from the Dunbarton Oaks Olmec Collection for Joralemon’s publication “A Study of Olmec Iconography.”
Filippucci was one of the early pioneers in digital fine art in the mid 1980s. In 1991, she had the first digital and video installation solo at New York’s Museum of American Illustration. Since then, she has developed her own perpetual Joan of Arc muse in 3D, using skills that offer infinite artistic possibilities. “Technology is a tool to be used with other skills,” she adds.
Striving to produce works that communicate the emotional essence of the legendary warrior though a hybrid combination of the traditional skills of painting and drawing with advanced computer technology, Filippucci is currently creating hybrid paintings featuring a flower-tattooed Joan of Arc wearing chainmail.
“I’m intrigued by metal against flesh,” she says, “ and I want to continue to reference Joan’s desire for peace through the tattooed flowers. Tattoos are painful but so is the attainment of peace.” Filippucci is also developing a series of dimensional works of armor “dresses.” The dresses symbolize feminine struggle and strength and will be translated into bronze sculptures.