June 20, 2011

from Davalos, Dr. KarenMary
to "nuala.finnegan@ucc.ie"
cc "almalopez310@gmail.com" <almalopez310@gmail.com>
date Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 7:51 PM
subject FW: Our Lady in Ireland

Please consider the original context of the art created by Alma Lopez and it is not blasphemous. It expresses the strength and identity of Chicanas and draws on the power of Guadalupe as a source of contemporary female empowerment.
Karen Mary Davalos
Chair and Associate Professor
Chicana/o Studies
Loyola Marymount University


from m sedano msedano
to nuala.finnegan@ucc.ie
cc Alma Lopez <almaloveslupe@gmail.com>
date Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 5:16 PM
subject Supporting Alma Lopez and Our Lady.

Dear Nuala Finnegan:

Congratulations on your sure-to-be wonderful upcoming event featuring United States artists Alma Lopez and Alicia Gaspar de Alba's works centered around Chicana art and literature. I am happy to learn that Chicana Chicano culture will find an Irish and European audience by means of your efforts. Thank you for your work.

The United States group calling itself America (sic) Needs Fatima sounds a call for censorship. While I appreciate your nation's endeavor via blasphemy laws to prevent intentional outrage by some crowd of offended individuals, Lopez' work, and that of other artists of the Lupe motif, honors Our Lady. Mary / Lupe / Tonantzin are women, mothers. The Lupe aesthetic encourages people to understand their own humanity through the womanhood of the symbols. That is no cause for outrage. That is reason for celebration that, through these works of art, people gain an enlightened, enhanced comprehension of Spirit, symbol and humanity.

I wish I could apologize for my fellow citizens' ignorance and demagoguery. Whatever their number, they genuinely are outraged. That their emotion springs sui generis out of thin air, not from seeing a woman saint who looks like woman, hopefully will not be lost on police or prosecutors.

Again, my appreciation for your effort, and apologies for these rabble-rousers from our shores to yours.


Michael V. Sedano


from Xochitl Alvizo
to nuala.finnegan@ucc.ie
cc Alma Lopez <almaloveslupe@gmail.com>
date Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 3:22 PM
subject In support of Our Lady

Dear Nuala Finnegan,

I am writing from Boston in support of Alma Lopez's art work, Our Lady.

I am a Practical Theology doctoral student at Boston University School of Theology and have a particular interest in theology about Mary, Jesus' mother. As a Mexican-American woman I am specifically invested in theology about Our Lady of Guadalupe and in having such theology be a liberating force for women. For this reason, I have been a longtime supporter of Lopez's work.

I hear you have received much protest correspondence regarding the upcoming conference and the exhibition of Lopez's work. It is sad and disappointing that some people think there is something obscene or blasphemous about her art work. In Our Lady Lopez honors Our Lady of Guadalupe and all women by imagining Jesus' mother in a way that highlights the femaleness and sacredness we all share. It is beautiful and liberative, not obscene or blasphemous.

I wanted you to know that Lopez also has a lot of supporters and appreciators of her work. We are grateful for her courage.

I wish you all the best these upcoming days as you navigate the mixed emotions. Peace to you!


Xochitl Alvizo


from Villasenor-Black, Charlene
to "Nuala.Finnegan@ucc.ie", Alma Lopez , "Gaspar de Alba, Alicia"
date Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 3:03 PM
subject Support of Alma Lopez

June 20, 2011

Dear Professor Finnegan,

I write out of concern over the controversy around Alma López¹s Our Lady,
currently on display at the University of Cork County. I understand that the
Philadelphia-based group, America Needs Fatima, which organized protests of
Our Lady recently at the Oakland Museum in California, is once again
attempting to censor López¹s work. As you may recall, this same group was
instrumental in censoring this piece in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2001, when
it was on display at the Museum of International Folk Art. I write to you
as a professor of Art History and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA, and as a
supporter of López and her work, urging the University to keep López¹s work
on display. Not only is free speech at issue here, but also women¹s rights
to their own spiritual lives. Little do these protesters understand of the
importance of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the lives of Chicana and other

Furthermore, for me, an art historian whose scholarship focuses on Hispanic
Catholic religious art, this latest attempt at suppression is eerily
reminiscent of centuries of Inquisition control of the arts. This piece is
not blasphemous or pornographic. It is not ³grossly abusive or insulting in
relation to matters held sacred by any religion;² nor is its intent and
result ³outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that
religion² (quotations taken from Irish Blasphemy Laws). It simply
represents an artist¹s attempt to humanize the Virgin Mary, to understand
the importance of the Virgin Mary in her own life and in the lives of other
Chicanas. Conversely, it is a work that attempts to detect the divine within
all women. As a person of faith, a Chicana, and a scholar, I find it to be
extremely moving. I also find it to be a testament to the power of art to
move people.

I write in strongest support of Alma López and Our Lady and urge the
University to keep her work on display. It is my sincere hope that the
conference Transitions and Continuities in Chicana/o Culture is a great
success. ¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!


Charlene Villaseñor Black
Associate Professor
Department of Art History

César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies
University of California, Los Angeles


From: González, Dr. Deena J.
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 12:46 PM
To: 'nuala.finnegan@ucc.ie'
Subject: on the Alma Lopez image, invited lecture at the conference and my support for exhibiting the image

I am a faculty member at a Catholic (Jesuit) university in southern California and write now in that capacity. I am following the various responses to the image, “Our Lady of Controversy,” painted by the artist, Alma Lopez, who is visiting your campus as an invited presenter. I understand that there is some concern about violations of blasphemy laws as well as an ongoing campaign by some very determined, self-appointed arbiters of Catholicism. My opinion is that it has taken the Catholic Church many centuries to incorporate new, ever-inclusive policies and practices, but that once the practice and principle of accepting all our humanity is at play, then we must allow multiple voices and perspectives to be heard. Shutting down these voices is as dangerous to freedom, liberty, and pluralism as anything from our difficult past, whether speaking of the Holocaust, the Inquisition, or slavery, all of which I think of as practices that derived from people assuming control over other human beings and judging rightness or rights without respect for human dignity or human rights.

The image Alma Lopez has painted has the support of many women and men throughout the world; it is a reconfiguration of a figure we adore, admire, and worship. The museum or the classroom are not churches, nor should they be. They are places of re-imagination; in this case, I reimagine the Virgen de Guadalupe as a fighter, a resister, and as a spirit embodying these elements much like the real human being who posed for the painting who in her young and troubled life of suffering is as worthy of our gaze as any saint or image can be. To view the right to depict the Virgen in just one way denies that right to all others on the basis of whim and prejudice.

In this case, the artist is not carrying the image into a house of worship, and she has researched the Virgen de Guadalupe more than many of her detractors whose only claim to the image appears to be their notion that the own all figures of the Virgin Mary. Alma Lopez’s “Our Lady” is my Virgen de Guadalupe but I would never impose it on anyone as the one true depiction, or the only depiction, any more than I want blonde, blue-eyed representations of Jesus or the Virgin Mary to dominate the pages of all Catholic books, catechism manuals, or prayer manuals which was the case during my childhood growing up in a village in New Mexico where Spanish predominated and none of the people who made up our parish looked like those depicted in the books. Luckily, today, practicing Catholics and others have choices; in my home, Our Lady hangs alongside many other images of the Virgen, from traditional to non-. I hope students and colleagues in Ireland will support the idea of a loving image deriving from someone’s experience that is not always what we think it to be. To have to remove an image or a speaker out of fear and terror is precisely what the many, many images of the Virgen de Guadalupe asks us to avoid: fear, retribution, terror, and guilt. Thank you for inviting this important artist to your institution, as we have to ours several times as an instructor and as a guest speaker.

Thank you for reading these reflections.

Professor Deena J. González, Ph.D.
Department of Chicana/o Studies

Loyola Marymount University