By The Associated Press
Editor's note: State District Judge
James Hall, ruling on a legal technicality Oct. 10, refused to order a
state-run museum to remove the "Our Lady" collage. Opponents
of the computer-generated image had argued in court that museum
officials violated the state's open meetings laws when they decided to
hang the piece and leave it up. Hall ruled that the opponents didn't
properly notify the museum of the alleged violation as required by law
before going to court. But even if the proper notice had been given,
Hall said, removing the artwork would not have been the proper remedy.
The disputed image is scheduled to be removed from the Museum of
International Folk Art on Oct. 28.
SANTA FE, N.M. - A collage of the Virgin of
Guadalupe clad in a flowery two-piece swimsuit will remain on display at
a state-run museum despite protests from some Roman Catholics.
Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan listens
to reporter's question as framed picture of the Virgin of
Guadalupe stands behind him at Archdiocese of Santa Fe offices in
Albuquerque, N.M., yesterday
A museum committee recommended yesterday
that "Our Lady," by Los Angeles artist Alma Lopez, continue at
the Museum of International Folk Art. However, the entire exhibit will
end earlier than originally scheduled.
"The committee's recommendation
will stand unless it's appealed," said Tom Wilson, director of the
Museum of New Mexico, which runs the folk art museum.
Anthony Trujillo, deacon of Our Lady of
Guadalupe parish in Santa Fe, said later that the parish would file an
appeal, probably next week.
The appeal goes to Wilson, whose
decision in turn could be appealed to the Museum of New Mexico's
seven-member Board of Regents.
Many Catholics have condemned the image
as sacrilegious and insensitive and demanded its removal. Others among
about 600 people who spoke at a forum in April said removing the work
would be censorship and a violation of the artist's rights.
Archbishop Michael Sheehan condemned the
image yesterday as "sacrilegious to many thousands of New
"The picture doesn't show respect
for the one we consider to be the mother of Jesus, the mother of God.
She is shown not as the innocent mother of Jesus, but rather, I think,
as a prostitute."
Sheehan said he was "disappointed
but not surprised" by the committee's decision.
As for ending the exhibit early, he
said, "half a slice of pie is better than none at all."
The "Cyber Arte: Tradition Meets
Technology" exhibit, which includes the collage, opened on Feb. 25
and was scheduled to close next February. Joyce Ice, head of the folk
art museum, said the exhibit would close on Oct. 28 instead, "in
the spirit of reconciliation."
The collage includes a photograph of a
model portraying the Virgin of Guadalupe, wearing a computer-generated
two-piece floral outfit that displays her midriff.
Lopez, who is a Catholic, said she meant
to portray the Virgin as a strong, independent, modern woman. She has
said "Our Lady" is an expression of her admiration for Our
Lady of Guadalupe.
Lopez said yesterday she was pleased by
the committee's decision, and expressed her thanks to museum officials
who "are right in the fire where everything is going on."
Lopez said the museum would have set a
bad precedent if it had removed the collage, and that it would have been
wrong for her as the artist to remove it because she would have been
"a Latina artist, a chicana, pressured into silence."
The Guadalupe phenomenon originated in
1531 when the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared to Juan Diego, a
Christian Aztec, near Mexico City. Miracles came to be associated with
the Virgin of Guadalupe, and her image now appears on religious
artworks, tattoos and even automobile decorations.
More than 35 New Mexico churches are
dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
May 23, 2001
"N.M. museum to keep bikini-clad Virgin on exhibit"
By The Associated Press