March 28, 2001

Subject: santa fe
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 00:37:23 -0800

March 26, 2001

Dear Tey Marianna Nunn:

I am writing to express my support for your efforts to exhibit the important work of Alma Lopez. The Museum of International Folk Art is to be commended for its commitment to exhibiting one of the most important young artists of her generation. I am sorry to hear that not everyone is appreciating this timely exhibit. Ms. Lopez's work is, as you know, groundbreaking in its efforts to have us reimagine some of the traditional iconography of Chicano and Mexican culture. Her artistry--evident in the attentive detail to color and design, image and context--asks her viewers to reconsider the intimate relationships we have with traditional feminine images of Latino culture. Ms. Lopez's work can be placed in the larger historical context of devotional arts where the relationship between the secular and the sacred was both erotic and profound. But I don't think it's even necessary for us to have to justify Alma Lopez's work by placing it within this cultural frame.

Her work is deeply personal and, for me, speaks of a passion for life and its deep mysteries. Her image of "Our Lady" is both breathtaking in its daring eroticization of the sacred and stunning in its artistic rendering of La Virgen. Alma Lopez's image at once summons the democratizing history of La Virgen and the many ways that marginalized communities have conceptualized her in their own image for their own sense of empowerment in the midst of social denigration and cultural oppression. Alma Lopez's brave composition, "La Virgen," is an important piece for many reasons. It evokes multiple and contradictory emotions. (For me, I find it equally moving as I find it witty.) For these and other reasons, scholars such as myself find the work of Alma Lopez to be significant and important. (Her work has recently appeared on the cover of "Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies.")

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance to you in this matter. I would like to join your museum in support of this exhibition and, in particular, the work of Alma Lopez. Please forward to me membership information so that I can make my donation to your institution. I hope I get the chance to visit you in Santa Fe sometime in the near future.

David Roman
Associate Professor
Department of English
Program in American Studies and Ethnicity
University of Southern California


Subject: Re:
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 07:19:54 -0700
From: "Helen Lopez" <>
To: <>
References: 1 , 2

Hi, Also call Delilah Montoya, another Chicana activist artist (photographer). I left a message for her, asking for email address. Bernadette Rodriguez said she will check her email and do what she can to get out support.

Those conservative catholic activists are hot on your trail. Interesting that they have jesus nearly naked with a little cloth over his privates hanging on walls all over their homes and can't stand the sight of a holy woman's skin, and especially the breasts that fed them!

Roberta Orona said she bought a copy of the virgen from you - maybe it is a litho on canvas??? Do you have any left? I am interesting in buying it from you. I am extremely busy right now, don't know if i told you - i am running for chair of the Taos County Democratic party, elections are Wednesday and Saturday of next week . trying to beat out the old guard patrons including a woman we call La Patrona Loca. Consequently I have my organizing ferver up and got on your bandwagon! more later.



Subject: Update
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 11:10:05 EST

Hi Alma,

As an FYI, there is a blurb on your situation with the Santa Fe Museum in today's LA Times. I believe it's in the front page section on the National News page. It doesn't name you as the artist but it describes the digital image of a 'bikini clad' Virgen Mary and how the Bishop has entered the fray. Where's the separation of Church and State? Don't they know the cultural implications? I'm really surprised by the ignorance!

Let me know if you need anything!



Subject: In Support of Alma López y La Virgen
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 10:29:36 -0700
From: Dylan Miner <>

Teresa Mariana Nunn,

I recently became aware of the extreme troubles that the work of Alma López has created at MOIFA and in Santa Fe. I am writing this letter in support of CyberArte and in support of the work of Alma López in general. I am a Graduate Student at the University of New Mexico in Latin American Studies and was at the opening reception and artists' discussion. Following the opening I wrote an essay on the exhibition, focusing on the works of Alma López, in particular. As former Tlahtoani (Spokesperson) of el Movimiento Estudiantil Xicano de Aztlán de Western Michigan University and former Coordinator of the MEChA Midwest Autonomous Region (MMAR), I find nothing objectionable about "Our Lady" or any of the other works included in the show. What I do find objectionable, however, are the kneejerk reactions that the media have so quickly portrayed as the people's voice. Contrary to current media portrayal, the manipulations to La Virgen create absolutely no philosophical or spiritual choques, but it is rather the stagnation of iconography (religious or otherwise) that dislocates that imagery from contemporary societies. What Alma López has done has created a representation of La Virgen that relates to her lived experiences and grounds her in a new Catholic spirituality. I am very grateful to the artist, the curator and the Museum for portraying La Virgen de Guadalupe in a manner that relates to our modern society.

dylan miner


Subject: SF
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 13:52:53 -0700
From: gloria nieto <>
To: <>


Just wanted to say that you are supported by a lot of folks here in Santa Fe. Not everyone thinks your art should come down. And two points I want to make to you: 1. the vast majority of protesters are men who are apparently clinging to this goddess/mother idea and 2. the church doesn't own her image. She is the goddess of the Americas and the church people here keep conveniently forgetting the awful history of the church in relation to this image. I own her more than they do because I have a giant tattoo of the Virgen on my shoulder so that she will always be brown.

Hang in there hermana.
Gloria Nieto
Santa Fe


Subject: La Virgen artwork
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 23:16:26 +0100
From: Lyn Shimizu <>

Alma Lopez:
Wonderful. What a strong, vibrant portrayal of La Virgen. Initially, very startling- as women, as latinas we're conditioned to accept our sexuality in narrow terms defined by others. Your Virgen is powerful- I can see why some would be threatened. Hold fast and hang in there! Is there any way you can bring her, and more of your art to San Francisco?

Silvia Castellanos


Subject: Loving Alma Lopez' Work & Spirit
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 14:41:03 -0800
From: Public PC Patron <>
Organization: UCLA Library

Hey Chica,
I read today's WSJ blurb "Another Day, Another Inquisition?" by Hollis Walker and was moved to research you and your work.

I've set up a "Shrine-weblet" to you and your "Our Lady"

I just started it today, so it's a bit messy.

Just wanted to let you know I support you.

Lee Walker


Subject: ¡Bravo!
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 19:27:42 EST


Mi esposo y yo hemos leído mucho sobre la trayectoria de tu fama en Santa Fe. Queremos asistir a la audiencia pública el 4 de abril cuando vas a defender tu arte. Te deseamos mucha suerte. Yo trabajo con un grupo de la biblioteca principal de Santa Fe que planea presentaciones en español para el público. Los temas son varios: "La vida y la obra de Federico García Lorca," "De Don Quijote a la sopaipilla: La herencia de la lengua española," "El calendario azteca," "Cuba, un viaje fotográfico," "El exilio interno y externo en la obra de Elena Garro," "Los periódicos territoriales como espejo cultural," "Inmigrantes en Nuevo México," "El baile latino," etc. Sería fantástico si puedieras hacer una presentación en el futuro.

Jane Brickner


Subject: Re: [AztlanNet] Cyber Arte
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 01:46:25 +0000
From: Octavio Romano <>
Organization: TQS Publications
References: 1

The Art of Alma Lopez

a review by

Octavio I. Romano-V., Ph.D.

When I visited the web-site of Alma Lopez, I was immediately struck by the magnificent technical ability of the artist. The composition is masterful, the color renditions a visual delight that informs the viewer that one is in the presence of one of the leading artists of this nation.

To many, her works may seem "photographic," and to those among the artistic cognoscenti, they may evoke the works of Andy Warhol. But Warhol was inimitably superficial, a little boy toying with with infantile desire for a can of soup to depict his idea of heaven. Warhol's god was technology. Warhol's god was always technology. Warhol's god was a tin can.

Not so with Alma Lopez.

In her series on the Virgin of Guadalupe , her principal theme is lesbianism, as currently exhibited in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As such, Lopez reaches out to an all-loving god. However, her admirers and followers seek the precise opposite, they seek not an all loving god, but a punishing, fascistic god that mercilessly punishes the "pagans," very similar to the Mexico invading Spaniards who sought not only to eliminate contrarians, but also alternatives.

All of this is sad, for I truly believe that the last thing in the mind of Alma Lopez is to foster neo-fascism in a democracy. Yet, this appears to have been the case.

Octavio I. Romano


Subject: <no subject>
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 18:31:04 -0800
From: "Tere Romo" <>

Hi Alma,

I'm so sorry that you're having to go through all of this...Just wanted to give you a copy of the letter I sent to Tey and the Museum director, Mr. Wilson (that one printed on Mexican Museum letterhead). Hopefully, it will help them to keep supporting the great work you do.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tere Romo []
> Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2001 3:35 PM
> To:
> Subject: Alma Lopez
> Dear Tey,
> I am writing in support of Alma Lopez and her artwork on La Virgen. I have
> been a long time admirer of Lopez's work, both conceptually and in its
> technical quality. She is one of the few Chicana artists that is leading
> the way in the development of digital art and carving new territory within
> Chicano aesthetics. I am very distressed to learn that her art is under
> attack in New Mexico by what seems to be a few misguided individuals who
> equate their religious beliefs with the right to censorship.
> I hope that the Museum will continue to support Lopez's ability to express
> herself as an artist and will remain steadfast in its role as an objective
> center of free artistic expression. Museum's must continue to present
> multiple points of view which are reflective of the society we live in and
> more importantly, give future generations other perspectives on the world.
> If there is anything more that we can do here at the Mexican Museum to
> help, please let me know.
> Sincerely,
> Tere Romo
> Curator of Exhibtions
> The Mexican Museum
> Fort Mason Center, Bldg D
> San Francisco, CA 94123


Subject: Re: [AztlanNet] [Fwd: Cyber Arte - Please help]
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 21:13:50 -0800
From: "Therese Hernandez" <>
To: <>
References: 1

Querida Alma,

Altho' we've talked only briefly, I want to offer you my support on this maelstrom you've found yourself in.

I like the way the Virgin looks like Lysa Flores! I wish she looked happier and prouder, but certainly the flowers over her most feminine "secrets" are a wonderful visual metaphor. I am forwarding this to all my "enlightened" amigas, and am wishing you much strength within the courage you have manifested.

Tu amiga,

Subject: Alma Lopez
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 21:27:05 -0800
From: (Yvonne B)

To whom it may concern:

I am writing in support of Alma Lopez and her work in particular and of the right of artists to exhibit artwork in general. Ms. Lopez is an extremely talented and highly respected artist. The recent attacks on her do not reflect the opinion of many viewers and collectors of Chicana/o art. As an academic who regularly studies art by Mexican Americans in research, writing and teaching, I find Ms.Lopez's work to be of great significance in examining issues of gender, sexuality and re-visioning of Mexican icons.

The refashioning of the Virgin of Guadalupe is a very common motif in art by Chicanos and Chicanas. Many artists (and writers for that matter) have expressed their own personal relationships with this figure in their work. By re-visioning or even critiquing social aspects of Our Lady they are by no means disrespecting this figure. It is because they recognize its spiritual, social and cultural importance that they dedicate their talent and time to exploring its meanings, both traditional and new. I find it sad that an individual who objects on personal grounds to Ms. Lopez's artwork finds it necessary to take the paths of defamation and censorship.

I hope you will uphold the rights of artists to freedomn of expression.


Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano
Professor of Spanish
Chair, Spanish & Portuguese, Stanford University