April 9, 2001


Subject: [18thStreetTalk] Alma Lopez
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 20:59:52 EDT
From: Nadia Reed <QueeneMUSE@aol.com>
Reply-To: 18thstreettalk@topica.com
To: jice@moifa.org
CC: 18thstreettalk@topica.com

Dear Dr. Joyce Ice:

Thank you for your continued support of Alma Lopez's work. I applaud you for defending the rights of museums and arts councils everywhere to display liberating and refreshing feminist viewpoints.

A group of purulent attackers should not be -- and will not be -- allowed to dictate what citizens of the US can see in public museums. It is an egregious offense to censor any artist based on religious or political differences.

From my perspective they are making an un-American and fascist proposal: that this artist withdraw and accept their oppressive male domination. It is appalling and sick.

There is nothing wrong with a women's body and men -- even priests -- do not have the right to say it is ugly or profane.

Please don't let a fanatical few, who clearly do not understand the US constitution, bully you or any other arts organization into backstepping a century or so. Please do not let them feel that women artists or curators are fair game for political and sexual abuse.

Thank you for your time,
Nadia Reed
Arts Educator



Subject: Re: [AztlanNet] Re: CyberArte and Romano
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 23:26:38 -0600
From: "rudy fernandez" <elbulldog69@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com
To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com

I think that you are quit aware of the fact that the Guadalupana's popularity is much farther reaching than coffers of the "declining U.S. economic machine".
Propaganda, she is a part of the iconography that is used to proselytize in the name of  Christianity. It depends on which side of the fence that you stand whether you would consider it propaganda or not.
The Image of Tonanzin-Guadalupe, have you ever seen the painting of the Guadalupana first hand?
In regard to spiritualized  thinking thinking being analogous to "formalist breakthroughs" I think not. This is an

Idea that has already caused enough problems throughout history.

Subject: Re: <no subject>
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 09:20:52 -0600
From: gloria nieto <globall@cybermesa.com>
To: <almalopez@earthlink.net>

I am now just a toothless hag.
I went to see your show on Firday so I was not one of those people screaming (to defend it, of course) without seeing the work. Breathtaking. I loved every bit of it. I have struggled with my computer trying to learn how to
layer images and it is something I still can't figure out. I have wanted to do a collage of pictures of all the women in my family. I'll keep slogging on with it, completely inspired by your work.
I will be going to D.C. next Monday to work with LLEGO all week. If there is anything I can do for you this week, please do not hesitate to ask.

Su hermana,


Subject: Re: CyberArte - The Inquisition of 4/4
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 09:31:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: Maria Herrera Sobek <sobek@alishaw.sscf.ucsb.edu>
To: Alma Lopez <almalopez@earthlink.net>

Hi Alma,

I was in Zacatecas, Mexico and there was an article on the V. of Guadalupe controversy in the newspaper Milenio (I think it is from Mexico City.) There were pictures of your work and a photo of Tey Mariana and Thomas H. Wilson.

The article was fairly descriptive but it quoted several bishops from Mexico who were really mad at the exhibit and the artwork.

I will try to send you a copy of the paper.

Keep up the struggle. Your work is wonderful.
Maria Herrera-Sobek


Subject: in support of Our Lady
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 10:53:28 -0600
From: "Sutton and Brunn" <tumbleweeds@trail.com>
To: "Alma Lopez" <almalopez@earthlink.net>

Ms. Lopez - Following is a letter I sent today by mail to Tom Wilson, Director of the Museum of New Mexico. I'm the editor of Tumbleweeds, a children's newspaper in Santa Fe.

- Claudette Sutton
9 April 2001
Thomas H. Wilson, Director
Museum of New Mexico
P.O. Box 2087
Santa Fe, NM 87504-2087

 Dear Mr. Wilson:

I write to urge you to continue displaying Our Lady by Alma López at the Museum of International Folk Art.

I am alarmed and offended by the attempts by some members of religious groups to suppress creative expression, and to restrict my right and the rights of others to view art. It is the job of the artist to inspire us to think, feel and see in new ways. Alma López has obviously done her job.

Removing her work from the museum would send a chilling message to artists who wish to interpret the familiar in new ways, and to curators who might display other controversial works in the future.

I had intended to write this letter even before I saw Our Lady, because I believe strongly in the principle of freedom of expression. However, after seeing the photograph in the Museum on Saturday, I am all the more adamant that this image must continue to be available to the public.

In Ms. López’s Guadalupe I saw – for the first time – a Holy Mother who makes eye contact, whose body posture says, “I’m here; I stand firmly on two feet; I speak with a strong voice.” I saw her for the first time held aloft by an angel who expresses mature womanhood and sexuality, not naive innocence. I left the exhibit smiling inside and out, feeling myself assume more space and speak in a firmer voice. I can only imagine how much more powerfully this work would have affected me if I were a Catholic Hispanic woman.

I urge you not to succumb to pressure to remove this work from the Museum of International Folk Art.

Sincerely yours,
Claudette E. Sutton
Editor, Tumbleweeds Newspaper
cc: Board of Regents, Museum of New Mexico
Joyce Ice, Director, Museum of International Folk Art
Alma López, Artist


Subject: Re: CyberArte - The Inquisition of 4/4
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 11:05:03 -0600
From: "Ev-Ra, Princess o' Power" <evsch@unm.edu>
To: almalopez@earthlink.net, alma310@yahoo.com

I heard about the debacle on the news (though I don't know if I can trust our local news--the local paper still hasn't printed my letter) and about how the venue is going to be moved. We'll see.

Your e-mail confirms my suspicions about who is actually spearheading this campaign. And you're absolutely right.

It IS about sex, gender, and how a Catholic male hierarchy perceives women and what they expect from them.

Isn't it interesting how their complaints labelled the piece as "perverted" and "pornographic"? Right there, that shows you how they view women and women's bodies. Sexual objects. But when a woman revels in her power, she is suddenly a "prostitute." It drives me absolutely batty.

Sorry about all this. Keep the faith!

yours in the struggle,Ev


Subject: Defense of Chicana Artist: Alma Lopez
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 13:56:49 EDT
From: Celiaherrerar@aol.com
To: jice@moifa.org, TMMunn@moifa.org, almalopez@earthlink.net

Dear Curators

I would like to send my support of Alma Lopez's work "Our Lady."

I am late in sending in this letter of support, because I had to think about my position. As a fellow artist I whole heartedly support Alma, and yourselves as curators in choosing to show her work and thus validating to
her work as an artist. Artists at their best are not just image makers but thinkers and critics of our times and culture.

I am one of those MeXicanas that holds dearly to what is sacred in our MeXicana culture. So much of our culture is constantly up for grabs, and it distresses me to witness the trivialization of our cultural icons in the
common market. Virgen on shopping bags, tennis shoes, wrapping paper, etc.

It is difficult to bear. I believe it is the same battle being fought by the Northern Native Peoples to end the use of Tribal/Nation names and sacred objects like the Pipe and Eagle Feathers from sports teams. The University
of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, for instance, continues to defend the use of the Sacred Pipe of the Plains Nations in it's football half-time rally.

I had to think about the images created by Alma. It is true as she states that many Chicana artists have taken the Virgen image as their own and in doing so both challenged and caused us to grow in our perceptions and
understanding of our MeXicana/o culture. Yolanda Lopez's Virgen gave us back our dignity as woman/mother/worker, creator and protector of our people.

Ester Hernandez's Virgen brought the sexuality/sensuality back to the image of the "sacred mother". These images of the Virgen, showing legs kicking their way out of oppression, choosing to wear heels like some modern woman,
or the tatooed Virgen on a naked woman's back, force us, as a people to contemplate and confront our colonized institutionalized beliefs. Our discomfort is good for us, it teaches us to examine our conscience and

After thinking about her work in this manner it became clear to me that this is what matters. It does not matter what I personally think about her use of Virgen, it's artistic merit, nor it appropriateness. She as an artist is
doing what artists are supposed to do: observe, think, and interpret; and in doing so open the conversation about what we take for granted in our everyday lives.

In closing I want to address the attack by so called defenders of the Catholic faith. Many, too many, of our Indigenous Peoples lost rights, land, and lives in the name of Jesus, right there in very plaza's of what is now
called New Mexico. Where is the protest to that fact? Where is the outrage to the continuing disregard of Indigenous rights, spiritual beliefs and culture? If Alma with all her alma is challenging the authority, all power
and blessings to her effort! And if the Archbishop needs a battle, let him take prejudice and small heartedness in the name of the Lord. Let him defend the life of Leanord Peltier, and the outright lack of justice our communities
live with on a daily basis. Let him defend the rights of women and children in his very own congregation.

I say get off the Virgen and the backs of artists.

Celia Herrera Rodriguez
Visual Artist/Lecturer
Chicana/o Studies


Subject: Re: [AztlanNet] Re: Guadalupe Re-viewed
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 18:38:07 -0000
From: "Pedro Romero Sedeno" <romesedeno@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com
To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com

In discussing,  "artists and religionists" in Santa Fe , please be sure you are not talking about something you know very little about.  I invite you to come to our community of Santa Fe, let us break taco, and give and learn of each other's knowledge. Please know that there are intellectuals, community activists, educators,
artists, etc.  not just religious fanatics, not buying a museum's validation of propaganda for consumer culture as "art". Let us serve each other and our True Self, and save ourselves from "self". Como va la cancion: Put a little love in your heart", hombre.

>From: Octavio Romano
>Reply-To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com
>To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com, chicle@unm.edu, lista@www.azteca.net
>Subject: Re: [AztlanNet] Re: Guadalupe Re-viewed
>Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 01:37:43 +0000
>The final jump for total human consciousness will be
>the realization that virtually all artificial categories,
>art/science, poverty/wealth, religious/pagan will have
>to be discarded as presumed "real" entities. At the
>end of this final jump, human consciousness will
>consist of our knowledge of process, and process
>Process will dominate our knowledge and our
>Admittedly, humans have made some faltering
>efforts to reach this end, as in the all encompassing
>process we call evolution (inclusive) or creation
>(exclusive). The same can be said of Hopi religion
>(inclusive) and Judaism (exclusive), temperature
>(inclusive) and vacuum (exclusive), genetics
>(inclusive) and uniqueness (exclusive).
>It has been in the exclusivities that we encounter
>virtually insurmountable barriers which hold back
>the quest for that process which we call existence
>and hence, consciousness.
>"Freedom" and "religion," thus, are both artificial
>constructs of mutual exclusivity which create the
>illusion that we understand when we select one or
>the other, when, in fact, we do not. The same applies
>to "religion" and "art," both are populated by self-
>appointees who trumpet our salvation as keepers
>of human consciousness, self-appointed wardens
>of each and every one of our days of consciousness.
>It is within the existential existence of the mind and
>body, however, material or immaterial, that for ages
>immemorial, each rock, each tree, each human, has
>been the source of its own creation and its own
>In the battle between the artist and the religion that
>is currently being fought in Santa Fe, New Mexico,
>predominant is their mutual instrumental self-interest
>that fuels their confrontation.
>Both promise either spiritual or cultural salvation.
>How, in their arrogance, both artists and religionists,
>dare they try to deprive me of this most fundamental
>universal and sacred human right to choose my own
>salvation, as has been bestowed upon me by the force
>that created me and will destroy me, no matter the
>puny and temporal protestations of the Santa Fe
>artists and religionists who scream irrationally in their
>game of dominance over other human beings..
>Octavio Romano Ph.D.
>Editor: TQS Publications


Subject: [AztlanNet] Re: CyberArte and Romano
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 18:46:45 -0000
From: "Pedro Romero Sedeno" <romesedeno@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com
To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com

We "artists and religionists" in Santa Fe are not "screaming",; we are advancing intellectual discourse over the Web.  Hermano,  get a grip, calmase, "True religion is loyalty to your highest ideals".  What's yours?  Let's talk.  As to digital prints, what is art? what is propaganda? 


Subject: Re: [AztlanNet] CyberArte - The Inquisition of 4/4
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 18:51:48 -0000
From: "Pedro Romero Sedeno" <romesedeno@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com
To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com

As to the censorship issue, is it valid to question  if the image of Guadalupe as a dark-skinned humble and compassionate pregnant woman censored from Her throne of sun and moon by Alma Lopez?  Who is casting the first stone?

>From: Sergio Hernandez
>Reply-To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com
>To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com
>Subject: Re: [AztlanNet] CyberArte - The Inquisition of 4/4
>Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 09:52:14 -0700
>Alma you figure the Inquistion was probably initiated by a few...zealots. And as I
said before those that cast stones need to look at their own back yard



April 9, 2001

Thomas Wilson, Director
Museum of New Mexico
P.O. Box 2087
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Dear Dr. Wilson,

This is regarding the artwork of artist, Alma López, which is currently being exhibited at the Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA). I support Ms. López as an artist and support her artwork being presented in the museum.

The controversy regarding Ms. López’s artwork is apparently based on religious ideology. The call for censorship of her artwork is unfair as religious beliefs should not motivate such intentions. The church is a separate institution apart from the arts and sciences. The individuals responsible for this controversy are wrongfully imposing their religious convictions on others by calling for the removal of Ms. López’s artwork and of certain museum staff. The general public and visitors of MOIFA, or any museum should have the choice to view, or not to view the work of a particular artist. However, there must be a choice. The artist and the museum staff provided this choice and an opportunity to the public by exhibiting Ms. López’s artwork.

The protesters raising controversy make reference to their religious devotion. They openly emphasize their freedom of religion; a personal right claimed by people in this nation. This right, however, should not be the motivating factor to pursue causes such as the removal of art in museums. This transcends their individual right.

Additionally, even the religious beliefs of one group only reflects a body of beliefs among many.

We do not live in a homogeneous society, but in a diverse society. For this reason, the withdrawal of Ms. Alma López’s work from the museum would be unreasonable. In considering the existing diversity of beliefs and views, the removal of artwork due to the religious convictions of one group would be unfair and biased. Therefore, Ms. López’s artwork should not be removed and I support her artwork being presented at the Museum of International Folk Art.


Leticia López
Berkeley, California
cc: Joyce Ice, Ph.D.
Tey Marianna Nunn, Ph.D.
Curator of Contemporary Hispano and Latino collections
P.O. Box 2087 Santa Fe, NM 87504
Dr. Edson Way, Cultural Affairs Officer
Office of Cultural Affairs
La Villa Rivera Building
228 E. Palace Santa Fe, NM 87501
Alma López c/o Tongues/VIVA
1125 N. McCadden Place Suite 148
Los Angeles, CA 90038-1212



Subject: Saludos (and support) desde Texas...
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 12:32:38 -0700 (PDT)
From: alejandro insurgente <insurgente@excite.com>
To: almalopez@earthlink.net

Ms. Lopez---

I wanted to send you a copy of the letter I sent in support of your work, along with our saludos desde san anto.


Alejandro Perez--------------------------

Dr. Tom Wilson, Director
Museum of New Mexico;
Dr. Joyce Ice, Director
Museum of International Folk Art;
Dr. Tey Marianna Nunn, Curator
Museum of International Folk Art:

Saludos a todos. I write from San Antonio, Texas, where we have learned a thing or two about sanctioned censorship and the consequences of daring to challenge the status quo. Not too long ago, the city –bowing to pressure from a tenuous alliance with various conservative, homophobic, sexist, and racist organizations and individuals—voted to completely defund the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, an organization dedicated to artistic and cultural expression of all marginalized communities as well as the cause of social justice. Unfortunately, despite tremendous support from the community, the city prevailed; two of the councilmen who supported the cuts are currently the front-runners in our city’s mayoral race.

Not all is lost, however. We –and I say we, as a community of Esperanza supporters—fought back, taking the city to court on the grounds that they have violated our first amendment rights around freedom of expression by
engaging in viewpoint discrimination—an action clearly prohibited by the constitution. Currently, we await a decision.

During the trial, part of the argument the Esperanza Center made was that Chicana/o and Latina/o art carries a political message—as does all art. That our art by its nature may provoke, offend, challenge others; while at the
same time celebrating and reaffirming our own, perhaps from a different or difficult perspective, to be certain, but doesn’t all art do the same?

What Alma Lopez has done is taken the same sort of risks which the Esperanza Center took in pushing the boundaries of the accepted, dominant conventions, while remaining deeply rooted in a cultural and (dare I say)
Catholic context. Both this work, and the controversy surrounding it, call to mind similar reactions to Andres Serrano’s photographs, or Yolanda López’ and Ester Hernández’ images of la Virgen –as a black-belt karate expert or seen tattooed on the back of another woman.

These are tough times for activists, and artists, with a vision, as always.

Without the support of our local, statewide, national and even international allies, the Esperanza Center would have fought its battle in isolation. In the same vein of mutual support, recognizing that the struggle is
everywhere, I offer my support in the defense of art that provokes, art that offends, art that challenges—and art that celebrates and reaffirms.

Alejandro Perez
San Antonio, TX



Subject: Re: [AztlanNet] Re: CyberArte and Romano
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 14:57:21 -0600
From: "rudy fernandez" <elbulldog69@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com
To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com

We don't have to look very far back in history to see the work of people aspiring to those lofty levels of idealism. Recent religious wars that we have had in the Balkans seem to bring fear of religious zeal to most peoples hearts.
Some of the most notable of  events fueled  by those ideals include the Crusades
and the Inquisition.
As long as these ideas remain in the realm of academic discussions they can be provocative and inciting. Unfortunately zealots abound, waiting to be drawn together by the first idea that rallies them ot a cause.
La Guadalupana is a cultural icon as well as a religious one. She has become many different thing to many to many different people, Christian and non-Christian alike.
I don't  think that anyone one group owns the license to her image any more than they do to the image of Buddha or Coatlicue.
I'm having a hard time believing that this topic is still being batted around, especially among the people in this group.

El Buldog      


Subject: Inquisition of 4/4
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 16:11:43 -0500
From: Denise Solis <denises@guadalupeculturalarts.org>
To: "'almalopez@earthlink.net'" <almalopez@earthlink.net>

hello, we met last week when you where here for the colloquim at the guadalupe cultural arts center. Pablo passed along the email you sent him....CYBERARTE - The Inquisition of 4/4..i just want you to know that i
will be emailing Dr. Joyce Ice and sending a letter to Thomas Wilson. i want to offer my moral support and remind you that i feel your work is very important and must be seen.
mucho apoyo para una companiera,

denise solis
guadalupe cultural arts center
theater arts department


Subject: Re: [AztlanNet] Re: CyberArte and Romano
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2001 23:38:14 -0000
From: "Pedro Romero Sedeno" <romesedeno@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com
To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com

The trivialization of any icon which fosters cultural identitiy and collective thought is but part of a propaganda effort to mainstream consciousness into the identity of "U.S. consumer",  and this propaganda effort is very much fostered by the dominant culture, which needs these consumers to prop up a declining US economic machine.  The image of Tonantzin-Guadalupe is one of the most foundational icons of the Mexican cultural identity and stands in the way of this propagand/mainstream effort.  It can be trivialized by unwitting artists and validated
by cultural institutions to further the dominant culture view. The Tonantzin-Guadalupe of 1531 on Tepeyca Hill, a unifying icon of culture, spiritual values, and collective thought,  is then censored by the media and "new" icons of
"free expression", are given play.  In my opinion, the only "formalist breakthrough"  left to find in art is for artists to spiritualize their thinking.  


Subject: Update on the inquisition
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 16:58:34 -0700
From: Consuelo Flores <CFlores@wga.org>
To: "'almalopez@earthlink.net'" <almalopez@earthlink.net>

Hi Alma,

I wanted to forward an email I sent to the museum in your support, but I CAN'T FIND IT!  Basically, I told them that because the separation of Church and State is so clearly defined in this country, a religious segment of society can not, legally dictate the contents of a government funded agency.  I really hope that this thing backfires
on those who are so incredibly ignorant and that you, not only keep your work in the museum, but are propelled into a positive and welcoming stratosphere! 

You keep fighting the good fight and know there are many people behind every step you take!  If you need anything else and you think I can help in any way, don't hesitate to ask.

Take care,