Catholics protest Our Lady's depiction

By Anne Constable/The New Mexican
March 24, 2001

The Virgin Mary has been depicted in contemporary art smeared with elephant dung, and she's been portrayed as a golden-haired Barbie doll. In the latest controversial image, this one in a Santa Fe museum, she appears in a floral bikini held aloft by a bare-breasted angel.

Our Lady, a digital photograph of the Virgin of Guadalupe by Los Angeles artist Alma López, is part of an ongoing exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art called "Cyber Arte: Tradition Meets Technology," which opened Feb. 25.

The Virgin of Guadalupe, the Hispanic version of the Virgin Mary, is revered by Catholics in New Mexico and in most of Latin America who name churches in her honor and celebrate her feast dayon Dec. 12.

A group of parishioners from our Lady of Guadalupe Church and other Roman Catholic parishes inSanta Fe and Albuquerque formally protested Friday the decision to include the piece in theexhibit. The group demanded removal of the photograph, the resignations of folk-art museumDirector Joyce Ice and Museum of New Mexico Director Tom Wilson as well as a public apology. The protesters called the picture "an abomination" and "a sacrilege."

Deacon Anthony Trujillo of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and parishioner Jose Villegas met Friday with State Cultural Affairs Officer J. Edson Way. But no action was taken on the group's demands. Instead, Way announced later in the day that a special meeting of the museum's seven-member Board of Regents will be held next Thursday or Friday to continue the dialogue.

Meanwhile, López's Virgin of Guadalupe remains on display at the museum - a gallery away from dozens of traditional images of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the folk-art museum's Hispanic Heritage Wing.And once again, the community is caught in a clash involving free speech, religion and art.

Carlos Martinez, a 72-year-old parishioner at Cristo Rey Catholic Church, said Friday's protest was his first public demonstration. Martinez said he had not seen the painting.
"I don't even want to look at it," he said. "They're making a spectacle of something I believe in deeply." Martinez said Santa Fe is a tolerant city, but continued, "Our people, when their ire is aroused like it is this time, we're going to come out and fight for our rights."

Canossian Sister Connie Martinez, who was also in the crowd outside the Office of Cultural Affairs, said, "Our Lady represents the mother of God. To me, no one should meddle with that piece of art. To present Our Lady in any other way is an insult to our faith."

Henry J. Casso, chairman of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Ministry from the Queen of Heaven Parish in Albuquerque, led Friday's protest. "We have to stand up for what we love and believe," he said. "Artists may have the right to express their opinions," Casso said in a news release, "but they do not have the right to publicly offend those who have brought this devotion to us since 1531."

The year 1531 was when the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared before an Indian farmer named Juan Diego on a hillside outside what is now Mexico City.

Villegas, a community activist and former Santa Fe City Council candidate, also demanded that all Catholic sacred images and icons from the Museum of International Folk Art be returned to the "sacred grounds of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe" and that the museum return admission fees generated by the exhibit to the public treasury. Way, the cultural-affairs officer, later characterized the meeting with the Catholic protesters as "very respectful" and said they "spoke very eloquently about their concerns."

But while he admitted "I wouldn't hang it (López's artwork) over my couch," he said he was not prepared to remove the director of the museum. "The mission of the museum is to document changes in traditional cultural expression, and this image is consistent with that mission." According to Way, the piece was created with a public grant from the city of Los Angeles and was exhibited widely there "with no particular controversy." It was also depicted in a brochure mailed to 11,000 supporters of the folk-art museum. Even then, only six people complained, he said. Way said he had been in touch with the artist: "She is somewhat disappointed, but she understands the museum is in a difficult position, and she will accept whatever decision the museum makes."

State Sen. Roman Maes, D-Santa Fe, said he called Joyce Ice, the folk-art museum director, after receiving about 250 phone calls this week from people who found the depiction offensive. He said Ice was "indifferent" to his message. "She is a state employee. She should listen to what people have to say," he warned. "Our Lady of Guadalupe is a very special lady in our community - and in the free world," he said. "To characterize her in any other way is to degrade her. Maybe better judgment would have stopped this."

While Maes denied he threatened to cut off state funding for the museum if it did not remove the offending work, he said that the museum's intransigence could affect future patronage and that "to jeopardize support among the legislators would be a very dangerous activity."

The National Endowment for the Arts was "destroyed by a few artists and a few unbending bureaucrats," Maes said. "I don't want this to happen to museums in our state."

Others, however, have come to the defense of the museum. Jim Fitzpatrick, a lawyer who represented the Brooklyn Museum in a similar controversy, said, "It's very dangerous business to second-guess the decisions of competent curatorial staff, who are sometimes trying to find images that cut against conventional wisdom."

Fitzpatrick said he believed the public was better served by being able to look at a controversial work and react on its own. "The one thing that is unacceptable," Fitzpatrick said, "is to take a work down from a wall of a museum simply because it might provoke controversy."

Fitzpatrick, who lives in Santa Fe and Washington, D.C., gave a lecture last year at the Museum of Fine Arts here titled Sex, Lies and the Arts: Culture Wars from Mapplethorpe to the Brooklyn Museum. "There's nothing wrong with letters to the editor or letters to the museum expressing outrage. And the Catholic Church has First Amendment rights, too. But if it gets to the point of forcing a public institution to take something down, then the public loses," he said.

Fitzpatrick is president of the Washington Project for the Arts, which presented the controversial Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit in 1989 depicting homosexual eroticism after the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington canceled it. Fitzpatrick also provided legal counsel to the Brooklyn Museum after the mayor of New York threatened to cut funding when museum officials refused to remove a painting of a Madonna with elephant dung. A federal court in that case said the mayor was violating the First Amendment by denying a museum funding simply because he didn't like a work of art hanging at the museum.

Last year, in another censorship issue, the Guadalupe Historic Foundation in Santa Fe removed Kathleen Wells' depiction of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a golden-haired Barbie doll from an exhibit at Sanctuario de Guadalupe. Wells, a Velarde artist, had titled that work Barbielupe. It's unclear on whose side the Board of Regents will be next week. But Frank Ortiz, a Santa Fe member, said he warned the folk museum after he first saw the show's brochure that the Virgin of Guadalupe photograph would cause "enormous problems and create great offense." "I would not find it offensive in a private gallery. But I do find it offensive in a public museum," Ortiz said.

"There is a school of thought that Catholic icons are fair game for far-out interpretation." The decision to include this work is insensitive "for a public museum in a community of deeply held beliefs," he added.

But Ortiz was insistent that it would be "destructive and stupid" to cut the museum's funds. Tom Chavez, director of the museum system's Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, said he didn't believe the museum would back down. "We've got to be able to do things unfettered by church censorship," he said. "We left that back in the 15th and 16th centuries.
"If I had been in Joyce's place, I'd put it up without second thoughts. I don't find nudity in religious paintings offensive."

The protesters plan another rally at 10 a.m. March 31 at the Museum of International Folk Art.

Copyright 2001 Santa Fe New Mexican


Reader Opinions

Name: Evelyn
I do not understand why everyone is so upset over what is simply a picture. The picture does not represent God! If you believe it does, you had better start reading your bible again. The worshippers of idols (that includes pictures) are in serious trouble. You should not pray to a statue, picture or any other physical symbol of religion. Faith and believe are within your heart.

Name: Rhonda Van Laeke
Individual interpretation of life, and all that has been brought to our wonderful minds through scholars, educators, philosophers, and teachers in general allows us to think as we wish, and believe what we will. It is our human right to interpret what we believe, and act harmonious to that thought structure. If you are insulted by this art, don't look at it! I respect your viewpoint, but don't have to agree with it. This is art and beauty in its finest form. Bravo!Name: Ed Campbell

Sorry, folks -- we have to worry more about doctrine, religious or otherwise, being accepted without question as a code by which all Americans must live. Established by the blood and courage of the Revolution which founded this land, our constitutional freedoms separate America from the Old World marriage of church and state -- and support our freedom of speech and expression. It's not surprising that many in New Mexico feel their religion should rule everyone else. It's not surprising to bump into "true believers" anywhere -- who feel that way. The people of Spain and Portugal suffered under decades of dictatorship from such a practice. Historically, I think the best definition was "clerical fascism".

Name: Jose Francisco Garcia & Linda Garcia Rivera from Omaha, Aztlan
I support the inclusion of Alma's cyber arte image that has received international attention. As a student of Mexican history I find Our Lady's image used by all levels of Mexican and Chicano society. From Hidalgo Costilla, waving OLG banners as he went on a murderous rampage in Oaxaca City, to the legions of Emiliano Zapata, utilizing Our Lady of Guadalupe as a cry for justice and revolution. From the grape fields of Califas where Cesar Chavez launched a labour movement under her banner, to the Santos that are sacred elements of American society, images of Our Lady are part of the public domain. My wife does not take offense. She sees this image as an honour for Our Lady to be pictured in this manner. Joining the ranks of Chicanas nationwide in the struggle for honor and dignity. A struggle of liberation, not one of war and pillage as before. This is the way a woman sees our Lady. It is a very intimate manifestation of what our Lady means to us Chicanas and Chicanos. It is sad that the traditional elements of the society find offense to Alma's art. But as a society, as a culture, we must continue to find expression. This is Alma's expression. I may add that we are a Catholic family. We have Our Lady's image everywhere in our house. Our Virgin is more than what she wears. Her strength is in her spirit, not a superficial reaction to her outergarment. We feel that Alma had the intention of allowing us to see our Lady as a kindred spirit, with a spirit for justice and social meaning for the ages. So I trust that the regents of your world class organization see the necessity not to resurrect elements that continue to resound from our national experience of the 1940's or a world-wide recognition of censorship that took place in Nazi Germany before a war that killed millions. Sincerely, Jose Francisco Garcia Rios Linda Mary Garcia de Rivera, Las Artes Casa de Cultura en Aztlan Omaha, Nebraska

Name: Dennis Cooper
As the artist said, this painting is hanging in a museum, not a church. If the museum only exhibited those items of art approved by the catholic church and all other religious organizations there would be nothing in any museum. The Museum Board of Regents should not be intimidated and should allow the painting to remain.

Name: D. DiSabatino
As someone from outside New Mexico, I find this controversy very amusing. Some of the commentsposted to the New Mexican's site show that people do not appreciate what it means to live in a freesociety. Basically, what they are saying is, "You have the right to free speech, so long as you don'toffend ME." This is the United States of America. The right of expression is contained in the FirstAmendment to the Constitution for a reason. On a theological level, it's even funnier. None of theprotesters know what Mary actually looked like. Traditional depictions show her as European -fair-skinned and -haired. (Similarly, Jesus is usually depicted as a bearded, doe-eyed hippie.) Ofcourse, Mary was a middle-eastern Jew. She couldn't have looked the way she is shown intraditional paintings - an irony lost on the protesters. And I find the artist's statement in creating thispiece very affirming of the REAL message of Christianity. Mary could have looked like anyone, because Mary is the archetypical woman. Her near-nudity emphasizes her humanity, and herfemininity. (I would point out that Jesus is often depicted as nearly-naked in traditional versions ofthe Pieta. Why isn't THAT offensive? Isn't there a double standard here?) Either all women, as theywere created (again, as represented by the nudity), are holy, or no women are holy. Which is it to be? I look forward to reading about the next regents' meeting.

Name: Ronald Roybal
Understand that most folks in the art/curator world are secular humanists. They do not see the imageof The Virgin of Guadalupe as traditional Hispanic Catholics do. The traditional history of the tilmais that her image was miraculously placed on Juan Diego's garment by The Creator as a sign of HisLove to the people of the Americas. This has been an object of veneration for untold millions offaithful people for hundreds of years. The power of love found in this image has changed theinterior lives of millions. This power of love and secular humanist dogma (basically another form of religion with man at the center) are diametrically opposed. These types of controversies will onlyincrease in number as the culture war continues. I am afraid that it will finally result in thepersecution of all Creator believing people just as other secular humanistic regimes have. (NaziGermany, China and the former Soviet Union for instance). The traditional faithful people of SantaFe are like the canaries carried into deep mines to warn the workers of danger. Are we reallylistening to them?

Name: Michelle Parker

Dear Editor, I am deeply disappointed in our State's Museum system for the displaying of Our Ladyof Guadalupe in what amounts to her underwear. Catholics believe in the doctrine of Theotokos, Mary as the Mother of God--Jesus our Lord. She was herself conceived without sin, was perpetuallyVirgin and is the Mother of the Church. In this way she is the mother of us all, a perfect symbol offemale chastity, modesty, and humility. Would you want to see your own mother displayed in her underwear on a State Museum's wall? It does not make her "powerful" as the artist stated was her intent. It is degrading to her and all women. A common problem in our culture---women as objects of sexual desire. Our Lady of Guadalupe in her modesty is the most powerful female icon in all of human culture! This action reduces Our Lady of Guadalupe to a mere piece of folk art! It does not speak to the miracle that this image, which was given by the Virgin herself, is associated with. TheVirgin as Our Lady of Guadulupe is credited with converting an entire nation of people who performed human sacrifices to the Catholic Faith---peacefully! I somehow doubt that it would have been politically correct to have displayed a Hopi kachina in a bikini at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. In a state where cultural heritage is so rich, a little sensitivity on the part of those who are entrusted with cultural treasures is expected!

Name: liella pichardo
This artist is nothing but a copy cat. The picture of the Virgin is everywhere, he copied everything but the clothing, and was not even close to being artistic or creative.

Name: Fran Hogan
Hey, I'm a taxpayer too! And I don't want MY taxes used to deny any form of religious expression. Catholics should, if they want, protest and voice their objection to anything they find offensive, butnot all of us worship the same religious icons and not all of us want our freedoms determined by catholic dogma.


Name: Priscilla Gaussoin
As a Santa Fe native now living in the Midwest I was outraged and saddened by the sacrilegious action, under the guise of art, by the Museum of International Folk Art. Santa Fe was founded on Catholic principles and it appears to be regressing to a Sodom and Gomorrah mentality. When did the true natives of this once fine and spiritual city lose control to the agnostic and irreverant?

Name: eric
Santa Fe, "the Artistic fraud capitol of the west", these silly and ignorant protests over this expressive exhibit just go to show how ignorant my hometown is! And for you hypcritical,
fundamentalists..."God, speaks through artists...". Wake up and embrace your fellow people.

Name: Jim Ross
I would like to thank the Museum of New Mexico and the curatorial staff of the Museum of International Folk Art for bringing "CyberArte" to our New Mexican community. I found the show to be not only thoughtful and creative, but inspiring as well. Naturally, as an anglo male, raised in a protestant family, I had no idea the show would generate such valuable discussion. Although the curatorial staff has been accused of being "insensitive", I don't get it. I mean, aren't these the same curators who recently brought us "Santiago!" and "Sin Nombre: Hispana and Hispano Artists of theWPA" (the latter show being one of the most original and impressive exhibitions of Hispanic WPA-era art ever exhibited in this country.)? If that's not cultural sensitivity, I don't know what is. Finally, as a taxpayer and resident of New Mexico, I am proud to pay for a public institution that honestly educates us on the diversity of our wonderfully complex world. Fortunately, we live in a democracy where ideas and icons don't have to be defined and controlled by a single world-view, but may be freely borrowed and adapted. As citizens of this society, the opportunity to adopt and personalize the world around us is one of our greatest freedoms. Keep up the good work Museum of New Mexico!! I look forward to helping pay for future great shows on April 15th.

Name: Uncle Sam
What would be the reaction to a Star of David placed in a jar of urine just as the Crucfix has the name of "art." I find the idea of either repulsive! No tax money for art! Why should government subsidze any industry?

Name: Katherine Reilly
The tragedy here is not only the attempted abasement of the Virgin Mother of God, but the abasement of the artist herself. No one in their right mind and specifically, no one who loved God, would even remotely entertain the idea of painting the Queen of Heaven and Earth in the kind of pornography that this so-called artist has portrayed Mary. The sickness of soul that possesses this woman is heartbreaking, and just as heartbreaking are the museum people and the lawyer from NM and DC who stand to "uphold" the secular rationale for allowing freedom of expression. This is not freedom but enslavement to the twisted opinions of the secular world, sadly, a secular world which has absolutely no concept of the glories of God and His Mother Mary nor of what they're doing. When Christ hung in such utter agony on the Wood Cross, the Cross that Redeemed humanity, His words remain the most poignant words the world has ever heard: "Forgive them Father for they know not what they are doing." And, so to this artist and the museum director and the Washington, DC lawyer, I say "Forgive them Father for they don't what they have done..." All their so-called worldly knowledge, all of their so-called worldly influence, all of their pitiful human "knowledge" only shows the great lovers of God that these folks are in some real serious prayers and petitions most specifically to the Blessed Virgin to intercede in their souls to open their minds and to convert them, for they are the ones who are in trouble.

Name: Rosemarie Veliz
I am totally disgusted with Our Most Blessed Mother being displayed in such a manor. I guess Satan is not going to stop his attacks against Our Holy Mother of God until She herself will chain him up as promised. Sad to see he lives in the artist. It is Catholic bashing again.I would never apply the word artist to an idiot that is possessed.

Name: Deborah Timmons
What a joy it is to be a practicing Catholic in this day and age! I can watch while my beliefs are scorned and abused, mocked and ridiculed, in movies, on television, in song, and in the art world. Itis not art to depict the mother of God in a bikini, nor to depict Christ as a naked woman, as He wasin another piece of "art". I say simply "the emperor has no clothes". We may be told it is a beautiful piece of fabric, and a great deal of people will believe that it is, because, after all, the experts say it is. But the emperor is still naked, despite what the experts say.

And this is not art, but religious abuse. And people with faith, any faith, should be offended. Those of us who still have enough courage to believe, when belief is so unpopular, are following the footsteps of our God. We are scourged, whipped, abused and eventually may be crucified in the name of public right to freedom of expression. Still we have to remember that our God, loves all of us, and believes in all of us, eventhose who do not love Him and do not believe in Him.

Name: Joan
I thought true artists were supposed to be creative instead of always falling back on controversial issues like attacking religious subjects. Could these artists enjoy stirring up controversy? Are they hoping to become famous by offending a large part of the population? The Blessed Mother is the pure Mother of God. Any portrayal such as the one in Santa Fe is offensive. I only wish I could defend the Blessed Virgin's honor more than this feeble effort. May God forgive these insensitive artists---but can they be called real "artists?" I agree, this effort is neither creative or artistic.

Name: Dora Gallardo
Out of 56 comments posted, there are only 11 in favor of this Blasphemy (and, of course, that is what it matter how much you deny it). I believe that if many more people responded, the percentages would remain the same. Alma Lopez is being used as an instrument against God, against Our Blessed Mother, against the Catholic Church, and against women.

She has fallen for the lie, the deception, as many women have--feminism, relativism, humanism. A name by any other name is still the same...godlessness. The saddest part about this is that she might not find out about her horrible contribution to the evil that exists in our society right now (abortion, mothers and fathers raping, abusing and killing their children, marriages and families being destroyed daily, children killing children) until it's too late, until she meets her Maker. And she will! Let us pray for her. She is a child of God, made in His image and likeness; and as upset and saddened or horrified and hearbroken as we all are about this, no one could be more heartbroken that Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother. The picture (just a picture, not art) will be removed, Alma Lopez will repent and ask God for forgiveness. Because men (and I don't insult the reader by having to say men AND WOMEN for we all know that in Holy Scripture and historically the word men was inclusive) are NOT more powerful than God or than Our Blessed Mother. They may believe otherwise. They, too, will be very surprised when they have to answer to the Lord. They are going to be very surprised with what will happen in this instance and others like it. For there are many people praying against these horrible insults to God Almighty and to His Beautiful Mother. Please join me in the most powerful weapon that we have againt this and other evils...prayer. It is very fitting that we pray...HAIL MARY, FULL OF GRACE, THE LORD IS WITH THEE. BLESSED ART THOU AMONG WOMEN AND BLESSED IN THE FRUIT OF THY WOMB, JESUS. HOLY MARY, MOTHER OF GOD, PRAY FOR US SINNERS, ESPECIALLY FOR ALMA LOPEZ, THOMAS WILSON, JOYCE ICE, AND EDSON WAY, NOW AND AT THE HOUR OF OUR DEATH. AMEN. For those of you who prefer to pray in Spanish, please join me...DIOS TE SALVE, MARIA, LLENA ERES DE GRACIA. EL SENOR ES CONTIGO. BENDITA TU ERES ENTRE TODAS LAS MUJERES Y BENDITO ES EL FRUTO DE TU VIENTRE, JESUS. SANTA MARIA, MADRE DE DIOS, RUEGA POR NOSOTROS, ESPECIALMENTE POR ALMA LOPEZ, THOMAS WILSON, JOYCE ICE, Y EDSON WAY, AHORA Y EN LA HORA DE NUESTRA MUERTE. AMEN. LORD HAVE MERCY ON US AND ON OUR ERRING BRETHREN. AMEN.

Name: Frank
Some thoughts on the impertinently bold and callus behavior of the Curator of the International Folk Art Museum of Santa Fe on the Crude and rude portrayal of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a Bikini. How dare she impose her freedom of expression by infringing on our Religious beliefs and all we hold sacred. How would she like for someone to take an image of her mother, sister or other person she holds in high esteem and degrade, distort, mutilate or do anything they want to it just to show their freedom of expression? Our Culture, tradition, history, and religion are most precious to us.

This freedom of expression is in very poor taste, one that we can not and should tolerate! Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron of the Hispanic Culture. The Hispanic People are being targeted most cruelly by portraying their Patroness in this manner. She has been our Patroness for almost 500 years, and for one person to display and desecrate one of Our Most Holy Images, just because Government allows freedom of expression, is indispicable to say the least. It is no wonder our youth, our society, our country have become so unruly and corrupt.

Actions such as these demonstrate a lack of respect for those of us who’s constitutional freedom of belief is regarded as holy.

Name: Russell
Do you not beleive in the teachings that you are yelling that this art is tearing down? Are you not taught to turn the other cheek? You make this kind of art famous/ important by your own reactions.

Name: Santa Fe Native, I.Smith-Roberts
Although I'm not Catholic, I am also a Christian, and having to see this "depiction" of the mother of Our Lord Jesus; well - it IS offensive to the eyes of this 62-year old grandmother! We here in the Ozarks surely empathize with home-town folks. In 1972-1982, AJ and I spent many weeks in Arizona; in Mexico, DF; in Belize; making many friends - with whom we still communicate. It's unimaginable to me what THEY might think -OR DO- if they were exposed to such a travesty; being, for the most part, 100% more CONSERVATIVE IN THEIR BELIEFS, than we here in the good old USA. FREEDOM? TRASH!

Name: Dj Aaron B
I was watching the evening news last night on one of the networks when this story came across the screen. A woman who was a supporter of the artist said thay "The Artist is a devout Roman Catholic". To that woman I have only one thing to say "A good tree, produces good fruit, a bad tree produces bad fruit". Every devout Roman Catholic in the world would be offended by that sorry depiction of a Beautiful Loving and strong Woman. Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ. That's His Mom, why would a "Devout Roman Catholic" disrespect God the Father and His Son Jesus by portraying Mary as a Bikini Model? Gods Holy spirit has made His voice clear on this issue through real Devout Roman Catholics "This is Unacceptable,
It is an Abomination". Our Lady of Guadalupe was not merely a painting created by a human hand, it was a Miracle, a Sign that was Given to Juan Diego to remind all of us that God is Real, God cares and that God loves every Human soul that ever was . Why would someone want to disrespect an act of love. The World today loves to attack Roman Catholics and makes a mockery of our beliefs. To the World I say this, If it were a picture of a Mass Murderer such as Adolpf Hitler or Jeffery Dahlmer portrayed as a Lover of Children and a Hero of the weak, there would be a great outcry because of the Misrepresentation of the Truth. Now perhaps you will understand why We find this image so wrong. It is a Blatent misrepresentation of the Truth with in respect to the Character of Mary and the Nature of God. This painting should be held in the same regard as a picture that would Display Hitler as a friend to Jewish Children, Blastphemous!

Name: Theresa Evans
Alma Lopez is a disgrace and what she has done is an abomination and an insult to the Catholic faith. Shame on her and shame on any museum that would display such a piece of work.

Name: Dorothy Wilker
I am not surprised by this latest outrage against Our Blessed Mother. There have been many insults and blasphemies against Her in recent years. This proves to me one thing> That there are forces of evil in this country and the world that will oppose anything or any one who might stand in their way.

There is a war going on right now for the hearts and souls of the people in the world. This spiritual warfoare has been spoken of throughout the history pf the church. It is especially bad at this time when the Virgin Mary is rallying her children to her side. The evil one will stike at heer in every way he can. I for one will pray very much for those who are so deceived as to think they are not doing anything wrong. I will also pray much in atonement for these insults. Please say an extra rosary or the chaplet of the seven sorrows to atone for this and other offenses

Name: Lillian
I think the picture depicting the Blesed Virgin Mary the "artist"has drawn is despicable,an outrage against the Virgin Mary and the Catholic Faith

Name: Miriam Ogden
I find it absolutely appalling that the Blessed Virgin Mary is being degraded once again in such an outragous manner. What is wrong with people that want to do these kinds of things? I can't even imagine how much this offends Our Lord. We must pray for these poor souls and we must pray for peace.

Name: Fran
It is sad that this kind of disrespect of ANYONE's religious beliefs is taken so lightly in this country. Call it art if you'd like. I call it sacriledge. Are we so far removed from the Holocoust to know the difference?

Name: R. SHEA

Name: Mrs. Trish Alston
This is an outrage not only to devout Catholics, but to the people of the world. She is the Mother of all peoples on earth and the mother of Our Lord. I pray for all those persons involved in letting this insult continue.

Name: Allen O'Donnell
This museum has accepted an insult to the Roman Catholic Church - the universal Church - and to all those who do love Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This museum ought have its budget reduced until it learn that porn is not art.

I find it very offensive that the Mother of God that represents, purity, holiness, goodness, sanctity,and is Immaculate, should be portrayed in a way that is very offensive to all who Love the Lord. This is His Mother. Would the person who made the decision to hang this hang a similar portrait of his or her mother? The gentleman who say's he wouldn't think twice about hanging the image, hang a similar representation of his wife or Mother. I think not!! I comes down to respect, and they obviously don't have any respect for the Catholic Faith and for people in New Mexico that feel strongly about this. Offending the Lord and His Mother and the people who love them is not something that should be done so flippantly.

Name: elaine
i think we should all get out oure rosary beads and pray, pray,pray. how long do we think the dear lord will let his holy mother be dishonered like this? may god have mercey on us all:

Name: Dorine Farry
I Now know why the Blessed Virgin is crying tears of blood!This is so disrespectful,there is no respect for anything especially life.

Name: Francie
I have just read the story about the picture in the museum in Santa Fe of the Virgin Mary in a Bikini.

Also that the person that painted that picture is a Roman Catholic. No, that person is NOT a Roman Catholic. No Roman Catholic would ever defile the Blessed Mother in any way. Just bear in mind that Jesus loves his mother very much. I wouldn't want to be the artist or the people condoning the hanging of this painting or even defending the hanging of it when the time comes to stand before the Lord. Watch out people; it won't be long now.

Name: E. Dominguez

It was only a few months ago December 12th I was sitting in church praying to my holy mother.
Celebrating her holy day watching many fellow Catholics coming together as one in the name of Gods mother. Its was only a couple of days ago when I saw my mother disgraced by a fellow Catholic, or she said she's Catholic. I can't believe she defends herself with the word art. I can't believe some people aren't even bothered by the poor art. Would any one especially Alma Lopez want to see their mother naked in a bikini NO!!!. Lets face it this Alma is not part of the church. She is some two bit artist who nobody knew until she created her art. She knew her picture would stir up people and she would get some fame for her poor taste of art. She would remember if she is Catholic the many times her mother prayed for the Blessed Mother prayer. The devotion Catholics have for their mother. There is no sin greater then a sin you know you are committing. Alma forgot one thing when she took it upon herself to degrade The Holy Mother. " Honor thy Mother and Father " Here is one thing I want to say everyone it comes from this song I know in Spanish, forgive me if I offend anyone, " Es Dios que nos da la vida y el te va quitar por eso en este mundo no a que hablar de mas " " Its God who gave us life and he is going to take it thats why in this world we shouldn't talk to much." To Alma I dearly hope the attention she is getting is worth it. Dios te bendiga y te ayude.

Name: Pam Russell
People will reap what they sow. If you have no regard for one another and their faiths then we are doomed as a nation. I would never intend to upset a group of people with "my artistic expression" concerning a beloved figure in their culture or faith. It is plain old evil. Satan may win this round but remember Jesus has already won the Battle.

Name: Flora Baldwin
I am deeply disturbed by this terrible depiction of Our Lady supposedly described as folk art. It is an insult to all Catholics and to the Mother of God to be so demeaned and having been made a sex object. I cannot believe that there is no action being taken to remove this piece of garbage. I'm sure if a similar picture of one of our presidents were done in this fashion there would be quick action taken. I sincerely hope that you will realize how many people are offended and take the proper action and remove it permanently. How sick our society is that they have reduced art to such a low medium. I pray for this artist.

Name: Aurora Mistica
The picture is so offensive and sacrilegious. For you people who use art as an excuse for expression of indecency and immorality, we pray for your enlightenment to see the Truth. It seems that your minds are cloudy and cannot distinguish what is really morally right and morally wrong. Don't you remember the Ten Commandments of God?

Name: Judy Kelley
I find it very offensive that the Blessed Mother of God is portrayed in a bikini. She was the purest of all Gods' creatures, and I am sure our dear Lord is weeping at the sight of his Mother thus portrayed. This country has strayed far from its religious roots and I wonder how long before God says enough.

Why do people think there are so many diasters, earthquakes, floods, and even the stock market problems. God is trying to wake us up. But He will not stand for His Mother being portrayed in such an insulting fashion. We should pray for the artist, Santa Fe, and our country because a time will come when God says enough. I love my Mother and the Catholic Faith and can not stand by and see her degraded, even if it is just an opinion on the internet.

Name: Delores Matthews
This so called art work is an insult to Our Lady and one can tell that satan is at work trying to distroy the minds of such artist!This picture should belong in a pit of fire along with satan. IT IS NOT OURLADY!!!

Name: Joseph
This is not art. It is a sacrilege. I echo the words of Jesus when He was dying on the Cross! "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do". May God have mercy.

Name: Judy Clancy Kelly
Only the devil loves something like this...Jesus, Jesus,Jesus.

Name: Katharine H. Kernan
I do not consider this picture art. To do this represents a desire to besmirch the reality of the Virgin and is totally disrespectful to her, and to other men and women.

Name: Jeannine Chartrand
GROTESQUE! This picture does not even come close to any resemblance of the Virgin Mary.Obviously, this self-proclaimed 'catholic artist' has completely lost it! Our Blessed Mother,the VIRGIN Mary, as the most humble and pure woman that she was, never bared her body in any way. In the descriptions given by seers/visionairies around the world Our Lady is pictured wearing a long dress and a mantle on her shoulders and veil on her head. She is the Model of Purity, created byGod to become the Mother of His Son, our Saviour. This catholic artist needs to work on her faith instead of attempting to become popular by degrading the Mother of the World. I fail to see any artistic talent in such a gross reproduction. Where are your moral values? Do you wonder why the country is hit by storms, tornadoes, etc and with more to come as predicted? I pray for you and beg our Dear Mother to overlook this misrepresentation of Her.

Name: Linda M.
After seeing this picture of our Blessed Lady and reading all the opinions, I wept tears of sorrow for our country. Why don't we Catholics wake up? We are a sleeping giant. If we would stand together, we could change this country and bring it back to God. There is no other group in this country that can be attacked like Catholics. Maybe that is why God is allowing all these pieces of trashy art to be created. Hopefully, one of these days we Catholics will get angry enough that we will no longer allow the persecution of our faith and the desecration of our Blessed Mother. Let's pray that the Holy Spirit will descend on our country and wake up Catholics.

Name: Cynthia Rojas
I find it appalling that Alma Lopez, a Latina artist, has been so widely criticized for expressing her artistic and political views. When corporations splatter women's naked and half naked bodies all over billboards, t.v., magazines, etc for profit no one says anything. As a young Latina I believe anyone and everyone who is so moved to criticize Ms. Lopez should think about their complicity to the outright sexist and misogynistic images plastered everywhere.

Name: leti
this artist's work does not have to conform to religious ideologies. the artwork was not displayed in a church, but in a museum where artwork belongs! many religious people are complaining...but many do not complain when sacredness is violated everyday-when people drink, gamble, and do many other "unholy" things... so, people should not attack this artist for displaying artwork that reflects her culture and introduces thought that is supported by many! museums should support the display of artwork that realistically reflects people in society.

Name: Lee W
I live in Santa Monica by the beach, southwest of Pasadena, city of roses (where Alma Lopez lives). Lopez presents a connection between my life and her religion. I find her interpretation of the Queen of Heaven much more inspirational and devotional than some weeping, weak, subservient plastic Marys I've seen. I think Lopez' "Our Lady" is beautiful and kind and generous. Her angel is bountiful. I notice most of the Catholic objections to Lopez "Our Lady" come from males. I guess "Their Lady" is more like the subservient kind and they belong to a long line of males that has fought to women oppressed for centuries. If macho males succeed in suppressing Alma's artistic version of her Catholic faith, maybe Alma might consider defecting to a religion which has a higher regard for strong natural women of our times (and all times). Mary (or Miriam) is an ancient holy name. Mary wasn't always the monopoly of the Catholic Church of Rome. Once she was THE Great Goddess of the Sea (Mar or Mer). The Great Mother Goddess welcomes women and men whom theCatholic church rejects --welcomes them into the "old religion" -- some call it paganism. The GreatGoddess loves that Alma can relate to natural beauty and womanpower. Your Great Mother would welcome you home, Alma. [I didn't mean to get "religious" in this public forum. I had meant to discuss the artistic aspects of Cyber Arte, but I read statements by "religious" Catholics and decided to deal with matters of faith -- Come on you guys, there is PLENTY of public art that appeals to your religion. Can't you tolerate occasional differences? How weak is your faith?]

Name: Pamela Cromwell

I don't find the picture offensive. For me, and for many women (Chicana, Anglo, whatever), the Virgin has been a great source of strength and courage, and our only feminine connection to God. I don't think it's wrong to look upon your mother's body, nor is it disrepectful to depict the Virgin as a proud Latina in full possession of her sexuality / womanhood. Is there something inherently evil and non-virginal about a woman dressed in roses? Is a woman with bare limbs and midriff automatically known to be less than virginal or motherly? The so called 'bikini' is hardly a provocative outfit (and it's anything but pornographic); your mother has probably worn as much (or less) to the beach or public pool. I don't think it's the model's attire that has disturbed the devout Guadalupeans, but the notion of feminine subservience replaced by feminine strength. This kind of image reinforces ideas that conservative Catholics (and others) find so threatening: that a woman can be an independent thinker, that she can make her own choices (as Mary did), that she can be beautiful and even sexy without feeling degraded. I don't know that I particularly like Alma's picture, but there's no reason why the museum shouldn't exhibit it. There's nothing wrong with protests and dialogues; controversy is good for keeping everyone sharp, and it may deepen your deepest convictions or give you a new perspective on important issues, a better understanding of other people. Calling for resignations and threatening the museum with funding cuts and even bombs is radical, criminal, militant and downright un-Christian. Let the picture remain, and let each of us relate to it in freedom - to approve or disapprove, understand or hate, whatever the case may be. Peace.

Name: paty
wuzup to all my hispanic gente well it's true that we were brought to the world nude but also the virgin was but we should have respect to that i know its no big deal to some people but if all you come to think if they displayed that picture at a church then some people will miss interpet what they're trying to say in the picture and like i said we should have respect because she's our mother who guides us through out the good and bad and repaint that picture the right way because some people do have a big deal about it there are people who are very religious out there who do care whats painted there so what kind of example are we putting on little children that the virgin is nude I don't think so thats my opinion

Name: KJ
How many centuries has this debate been taking place? You're providing this artist with some greatpublicity by dragging this out. Get over it.

Name: edna
Poor alma. It seems she is depicting her hatred toward her own mother, and herself, by this sacrilegious act to our Heavenly Mother. May Our Merciful Lord Jesus open her heart and mind and remove the bitterness she carries within.

Name: Margaret McLaughlin

The 4th commandment says honor thy Father and Mother.To offend Gods Mother is to offend God Himself.If an artist wants to offed God in a private place so be it.True Christians must defend insults to Christ in public places.Catholis must learn to speak up and defend thier faith as do the Jewish People.This never would have been allowed if it were againts the Jewish faith.All faiths have the same rights againstattacks of thier beliefs.

Name: Cheri Hackbarth

I believe that the protests for this art piece is just a way for people to push their religious beliefs on others. It is displayed in a museum and not in a church. I believe this wouldn't even be an issue in other countries. Our country has been on the wrong track for years and trying to censor something that has the human form, especially a woman's is just confusing to the whole aspect of sexuality. If you look at the history in Europe, you will see the human form of men and women portrayed and respected, not censored. I know people of different faiths wouldn't want others forcing their opinions on them, so stop trying to tell others was is wholesome and good.

Name: Anita Quintana
A Local Lady Speaks about "Our Lady"

It comes to no surprise to me that some members of the Catholic community of Northern New Mexico have reacted so passionately to the piece of art entitled "Our Lady" at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. Since 1531 La Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe has had specific meaning to the Catholic community. For the Catholic community she has symbolized Christianity and its teachings, so her image, as a symbol, is representative of something sacred to many people. It is the symbolic meaning of her image that is sacred, not the image itself.

For example: If you give your beloved a rose as a symbol of your love and affection, and that rose falls to the ground, and in your excitement you accidentally step on it and crush it, does that mean that you have crushed and disrespected your love? No. Of course not.

That rose was given to your beloved as a reminder of your love. That rose was not the love itself but an icon symbolic of your love. In the same way icons, statues, and images have symbolic meaning.

They are reminders of a belief or ideal. They are not the belief itself. The belief is within us not outside of us. Our love for our familia is inside of us not outside in an object. Alma Lopez’ piece entitled "Our Lady," in my opinion does not undermine the symbolic meaning of the image, it is a representation or interpretation of her personal relationship to La Senora. It stems from the same interpretations of the teachings that many of those opposing it were raised with. Both a rose and the image of La Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe are symbols. So why has this piece of art elicited such passionate reactions? Can we not separate object from spirit? Has meaning become second chair to image? Are we idolizing paper and ink rather than living the TRUTH? Are women still seen as possessions? As objects to be owned? Is it because some are claiming ownership of La Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe? This is a piece of art we are talking about. Not blasphemy. It is an image not a belief. Not a possession. We cannot in this day and age allow art to be determined by religious organizations. Nor can we allow our beliefs to be only as deep as an icon. We need to uphold our right to freedom of speech. And if we be believe in the love and compassion that La Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe represents then we need to treat each other with that love and compassion and not be judgmental of how she appears to us.

Anita Quintana Graphic Designer / Artist

Please contact the Governor and express your opinion at Contact your legislator at

Name: Mary Rivera Griswold

I was moved to tears when I saw the digital photograph of Our Lady. The artist, if she is Catholic and Hispanic as wel, l seems to have lost all respect for our culture and most especiallyfor what our culture holds in highest esteem. I am sure she did not learn this at her mothers" knee. SINVERGUENZA

Name: Anna Archuleta
It's terrible that Alma Lopez can try and destroy the love and honore Our Lady protrays to the Catholic Faith. For being a hispanic woman its a disgrace to find that she would go tho these extremes. What to make money or what ?????? God help her!!!!

Name: Ken Earle

Trash is trash wherever someone may choose to hang it. The bottom line of the whole fiasco is summed up by the "artist" herself when she thanked the Archbishop and others for all her free publicity. That is what it is all about, free publicity. How better to get their 15 minutes of fame than insult something or someone. If I took a Katchina mask and put it on a nude Native American maiden, the hellfire and damnation of the politically correct would tear me limb from limb. I have a great idea, why not do pop art of Martin Luther King Jr wearing a KKK hat?!?! Ken Earle

Name: Carla Garcia
I read an opinion of a person saying that theres nothing wrong with the artist using the image, because it has been used by all levels of Mexican and Chicano societies, but let me remind those people of something. The times that the Virgen's image has been used she was portrayed in her traditional image, NOT in the way that artist Alma Lopez has portrayed it her as.

Therefore I do not agree for people to be portraying the Virgen in her non-traditional image. Some people don't realize that for many catholics the Virgen is sacred because she is theVirgen, mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore I believe that the image of the Virgen de Guadalupe could be used as long as she is portrayed in her traditional image, NOT in the image that she is portrayed by the artist Alma