Web posted Monday, July 2, 2001
5:09 a.m. CT
Hundreds protest bikini-clad Virgin
The Associated Press
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Hundreds of people gathered
at the state Museum of International Folk Art on Saturday for the latest protest
against a display that includes a digital collage portraying the Virgin of
Guadalupe wearing a flowery bikini.
The museum's Committee on Sensitive Materials
has recommended that the show close in October - four months early. However,
opponents say that's not soon enough.
Speakers at the rally called collage creator Alma Lopez, a pseudo-artist and called for boycotts of the museum.
A chemical engineer from St. Louis, said he
traveled all day Friday to attend the rally. Steve Lee said the Our Lady collage
"bothers my conscience."
America Needs Fatima, a campaign by a conservative
Roman Catholic group called American Society for the Defense of Tradition,
Family and Property, sponsored the rally.
Society vice president Thomas McKenna read a
letter from an East Coast bishop who called the state museum's decision to
display Our Lady an "example of how little faith they possess to style
themselves as our nation's cultural elite. How tasteless of the unfeeling
rich to mock the devout poor."
The only counter-protester at the morning rally
was Rusty Rutherford, who wore a floral bra over his shirt.
"For me, it's strictly a First Amendment
issue," he said. "I'm not religious and I'm not gay."
Lopez's collage is part of the exhibit "Cyber
Arte: Traditional Meets Technology," said she thinks the committee's
recommendation to close the exhibit four months early is fair.
"I believe that the museum really tried
to hear what the community had to say and who is protesting, to let them know
that they are being heard," Lopez said. "This closing early is really
much more of this 'OK, we are hearing you and we're understanding that you
have this view.' It's really the good heart of the museum to compromise."
The Rev. Bill Sanchez, formerly of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Santa Fe, criticized the presentation of Lopez's piece in an exhibit room that resembles a chapel.