April 27, 2001

Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2001, 7:18 AM -0700
From: tey diana rebolledo <dreb@unm.edu>
To: dreb@unm.edu
Subject: cyberAte

I am writing to support the current exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art, "CyberArte." While I understand that one of the pieces in the exhibition has attracted some controversy, the entire exhibit is simply excellent, well thought out both visually and intellectually, and displayed in a beautiful way.

There is a long history in both Chicano art and literature of reconsidering the icons and symbols that are present in our culture. Thus, artists and writers have undertaken consideration of such images as La Llorona, La Malinche, and the Virgin of Guadalupe. These reconsiderations are not done with disrespect, but rather as a way of revisioning these icons so important in our culture in order to be able to relate to them in a contemporary way. While La Llorona and La Malinche were considered "bad women" in traditional culture and the Virgin as a pure yet passive symbol, many contemporary creators have imbued these figures with positive and progressive virtues. Thus La Llorona weeps for her lost children, lost not because of her but because they are shunned by society: the children of migrants, the children of the slums and barrios. La Malinche, who was sold to the Spaniards and became Cortez's concubine, is the translator who struggles to find meaning in a contemporary world, and the Virgin is a strong powerful figure who wears tennis shoes, is independent and active, and who may even wear undergarments. She has a body as most women do. For ordinary women it is difficult to be a mother and a virgin at the same time.

The image that Alma López created is not meant to be disrespectful, nor is it. After all, what she is wearing is not what I consider to be a bikini as is so reported in the press, rather a 1940s bathing suit. It is an attempt to render an image that young, modern women can relate to. In our culture our saints and icons are often personal. They can be appealed to for intervention when we have troubles, and are at times even punished (buried, put to face the wall, or in a drawer) until our pleas are heeded. Many young women today are trying to relate to a Catholic culture that has been oppressive. Finding images that connect to them has been an important part of their search for spirituality. These beautiful images are not sexual and one wonders about the strident, threatening, closed-minded words of those who profess to be Christian. As Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mexico's 16th century nun said to the Church when they were denying her the right to education and her right to think, "God gave me a mind. I would be denying God if I did not use it." God also gave us creativity and bodies.

Perhaps we should not be so quick to accept the views of those who cannot accept change and applaud those who are able to see transformation and power in our creative images.

Dr. Tey Diana Rebolledo
Regents' Professor
Professor of Spanish/Chicano Literature

Subject: Fw: The Body of the Sacred Feminine]
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 07:24:22 -0600
From: "Helen Lopez" <hllopez@laplaza.org>
To: "Alma Lopez" <almalopez@earthlink.net>

Hi, My 83 year old mother read Roberto's piece and she said "Now I understand. The art work should stay in the museum." She then proceeded to tell me what a feminist her own mother was working on the farm along the Rio Grande in NM. Gramma bought men's shoes so she could work outside, she wore Grampa's overalls and she cut her hair. She worked outside and raised 10 children inside. Mom said she was a modern thinker. Your piece keeps affecting people's lives and their thinking.