April 3, 2001

Subject: [AztlanNet] Fwd: Another letter to support Alma Lopez
Date: Tue, 03 Apr 2001 02:22:01 -0000
From: "Kat Avila" <buscandocalifornia@yahoo.com>
Reply-To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com
To: AztlanNet@yahoogroups.com---

In buscandocalifornia@y..., "Kat Avila" <kavila@b...> wrote:

I am writing this letter in support of the continuing display of Alma Lopez's digital collage titled "Our Lady" in the Cyber Arte exhibit at
the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. I was surprised at the controversy it engendered, especially after I looked at it online and remembered seeing it elsewhere as the paperbook cover for Alberto Sandoval-Sanchez and Nancy Sternbach's PURO TEATRO: A LATINA ANTHOLOGY. At that time my reaction to it was that it was a refreshing contemporary portrayal of La Virgen. Apparently some people are offended by this reinterpretation of a religious icon; indeed, I imagine they would be offended by ALL reinterpretations and other cultural manifestations of the same archetype, e.g., the Budhhist Goddess of Mercy, because it does not fit into their particular parochial vision of La Virgen.

This collage is not hanging in their church. It is in a public museum that serves a people of a diversity of beliefs. While the protesters have a right to contribute to the public dialogue on the issues that "Our Lady" provokes for them, they do not have the right to deny Alma Lopez's own religious expression and celebration of La Virgen as it appears in her art. And it is a celebration.

As an active critic of mainstream media that perpetuates racist and sexist stereotypes, I am sympathetic to what it means to be greatly offended.

But the protesters in this case are taking offense where none is meant by the artist (feminists work from different paradigms when creating and viewing female bodies) and are using this occasion to privilege their own colonial brand of paternalistic religious discourse. To maintain Lopez's "Our Lady" in the Cyber Arte exhibit is to affirm the separation of church and state and to support original creative artistic expression.

Kat Avila,

http://www.geocities.com/buscandocalifornia/, a web site dedicated to Chicano/U.S. Latino theater and Asian American/Pacific Rim theater