SANTA FE, NM -- On May 22, 2001, the Museum of New Mexico Committee on Sensitive Materials recommended that OUR LADY -- a work by Los Angeles artists Alma Lopez which is included in the exhibition CYBER ARTE: WHERE TRADITION MEETS TECHNOLOGY at the Museum of International Folk Art -- remain on display.

The work is considered "offensive" by some members of the Catholic community who asked that it be removed from the exhibition.

OUR LADY, a digital photograph depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe, features two of the artist's friends: performance artist Raquel Salinas as a contemporary Virgen dressed in roses and cultural activist Raquel Gutierrez as a nude butterfly angel, Alma Lopez explains on her website at

"Even if I look really hard at 'Our Lady' and the works of many Chicana artists, I don't see what is so offensive," she writes. "I see beautiful bodies that are gifts from our creator. Maybe because my mother breast-fed me as a baby, I see breasts as nurturing. Maybe because I love women, I see beauty and strength. I also see the true representation of Mary. Mary was an awesome woman and mother with a difficult task. She had a child that was not her husband's, she kept her son safe from a murderous king, she suffered her son's struggles and death, and most of all she raised her son to have love and compassion for everyone, including female prostitutes. I think Mary was a lot like some of our mothers."

In its response, the Committee acknowledged "the depth of feeling and emotion behind recent objections, coupled with the fact that members of these communities believe the exhibition or images within the exhibition are disrespectful." The Committee recognized the right of members of the community to disagree with the Museum of International Folk Art's presentation, but it noted, among other points that "The Museum of International Folk Art selected the works in the Cyber Arte exhibition in the spirit of free exchange of ideas and mutual respect for various points of view. Under their agreement with the Museum of International Folk Art, the artists selected for inclusion in the exhibition have rights under the First Amendment to have their works displayed free of censorship or other interference."

The Committee concluded: "Based on its findings and overall analysis, the Committee on Sensitive Materials recommends that all the artwork in the Cyber Arte exhibition remain on public view for the duration of the exhibition."

Sources/resources: ALMA LOPEZ HOME PAGE --

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.

"OUR LADY by Alma Lopez Triggers Controversy in Santa Fe"
Arts Wire CURRENT --
April 17, 2001