N.M. governor: Bikini-clad Virgin Mary should
stay on display
By The Associated Press
SANTA FE, N.M. An image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that some New Mexicans find offensive should remain on display at a state museum, Gov. Gary Johnson said late last week.
"I don't see how it can't stay. This is art," Johnson said April 6.
The photographic image of a woman representing the Virgin Mary dressed in what looks like a two-piece bathing suit made of flowers has created a furor.
A meeting of the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents to discuss the piece had to be canceled April 4 for lack of space when more than 700 people showed up.
"I think that ... the art that we put on display in our museums shouldn't violate the community standard," the Republican governor said in response to a question at a news conference. "I don't think that this violates that community standard."
The computer-edited photo collage by Los Angeles artist Alma Lopez is on display at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe as part of an exhibit called "Cyber Arte: Where Tradition Meets Technology."
Critics including Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael Sheehan have called the piece insulting and sacrilegious. Sheehan said the Virgin Mary is "depicted in a floral bikini as if she were a tart."
"For those that are opposed to the painting, I respect their views on it. They don't have to go see it," Johnson said. "For those that are standing up and vociferously voicing their opinion that ... this is free speech, (that's) their right also."
The seven-member board of regents of the Museum of New Mexico of which the folk art museum is a part plans to meet next week to decide what to do about the artwork.
Regents are appointed by the governor, but Johnson said April 6 that he hadn't become involved in their decision.
"I have not weighed in with the regents and will probably not do so," he said.
He also said he had not been to the museum to see the image, but that from what he had seen elsewhere, "I would not consider this to violate a community standard, meaning that it's obscene, that it's vulgar, that it's pornography."
"If you take it down, then where do you draw the line on the next piece of art?" the governor asked.
N.M. museum to keep bikini-clad Virgin on exhibit
Roman Catholic parish vows to fight committees decision to retain controversial artwork. 05.23.01
N.M. museum considers removing collage of bikini-clad Virgin Mary
Archbishop says work insults Catholicism, but artist says Mary belongs to everyone. 04.05.01