OUR LADY By Alma Lopez Triggers Controversy In Santa Fe

SANTA FE, NM -- OUR LADY, a digital photograph depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe by Los Angeles artist Alma Lopez, is considered "offensive" by some members of the Catholic community who are asking that it be removed from an exhibition at the Museum of International Folk Art.

The work, currently on view in the exhibition CYBER ARTE: WHERE TRADITION MEETS TECHNOLOGY, is described in an article on the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) website in this way:

"While familiar Guadalupe imagery is present-the rays of light, the cloak, the roses, the crescent moon, the angel-the virgin herself is represented by a photograph of a friend of the artist, hands on her hips and head raised, her robe open and revealing rose-laden undergarments. The angel below is represented by a topless woman, arms outstretched and butterfly wings extending from her shoulders and breasts."

The SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN reports that a group of parishioners from our Lady of Guadalupe Church and other Roman Catholic parishes in Santa Fe and Albuquerque formally protested the decision to include the piece in the exhibition. The group is demanding that the photograph be removed and that Folk Art museum Director Joyce Ice and Museum of New Mexico Director Tom Wilson resign. The group is also asking for a public apology.

"I have not done anything wrong in my portrayal of 'Our Lady' and as a Latina/Chicana, raised in Los Angeles born in Mexico and baptized Catholic, I have a right to relate to her in my own way," Alma Lopez writes on MAKING FACE, MAKING SOUL... A CHICANA FEMINIST HOMEPAGE. "After all, doesn't she belong to everyone? Isn't everyone's relationship with their creator/god/virgen, a personal relationship?"

So far, according to NCAC, museum officials have said they have no intention of pulling the Our Lady from the exhibition.

"For those that are opposed to the painting, I respect their views on it. They don't have to go see it, NCAC quotes Governor Gary Johnson as saying. "For those that are standing up and vociferously voicing their opinion that ... this is free speech, (that's) their right also. If you take it down, then where do you draw the line on the next piece of art?"

The exhibition Cyber Arte: Where Tradition Meets Technology features computer-inspired work by contemporary Hispana/Chicana/Latina artists, who combine elements traditionally defined as "folk" with current computer technology to "create a new aesthetic". It is at the Museum of International Folk Art through October 28 and also includes work by Elena Baca, Marion Martinez, and Teresa Archuleta Sagel.


MAKING FACE, MAKING SOUL... CHICANA FEMINIST HOMEPAGE -- The site includes a photograph of Our Lady, documentation of the case, and recommended actions

Anne Constable "Catholics protest Our Lady's depiction" SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN -- March 24, 2001

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