Artist Lopez Defends Work

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California artist Alma Lopez says she doesn’t understand why some people consider her representation of the Virgin Mary offensive. Her computer collage of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s national representation of the Virgin Mary, shows a young Hispanic woman covered by roses in a sort of floral bikini. She is supported by a bare-breasted angel. Some Roman Catholic leaders have denounced the artwork as sacrilegious. There have been demonstrations and protests at the state-runMuseum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, N.M., where the work is on display. "I see this woman’s legs and her belly ... and I don’t see anything wrong,’’ Lopez told the Los Angeles Times. As for the angel, also portrayed by a Hispanic model: ``They’re just breasts. I have them. Don’t rage against the breasts.’’ Lopez said Hispanic activists have asked her to voluntarily withdraw the work. She has refused. "It would mean Latinas don’t have a right to their own voice,’’ she said.