May 22, 2001

Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 17:48:25 -0600
From: chicl <chicl@UNM.EDU>
Reply-To: Chicano literature discussion list <CHICLE@linux08.UNM.EDU>
To: CHICLE@linux08.UNM.EDU

The Sensitive Materials Committee recommended that the Cyber Arte Exhibit stay up. The Our Lady art piece will not be removed but the exhibit will stay up only until October 2001 instead of its original date of February 2002.

This speaks for freedom of artistic expression. As has been surmised from my calls for support of the Cyber Arte exhibit including support for Alma Lopez and Tey Mariana Nunn I believe in freedom of artistic expression. Alma and Tey Mariana have taken a lot of abuse which was totally misplaced. Threats, name calling and other forms of intimidation are not what I consider to be Christian practices. I was present at both meetings held regarding the exhibit and I saw that the protestors against Our Lady, at the first meeting, were not above committing violence in order to get their way. The possibility of violence was very real. There did not seem to be any concern for the safety of the children, elderly and others present. Alma and Tey, who were not permitted to speak although several male protesters were, feared for their lives upon leaving the meeting place. Both women have been very brave in how they have handled the abuse heaped upon them. At times the abuse was based on misinformation, lack of information, plain ignorance or soley on the fact that Alma Lopez is lesbian. The abuse became personal and the issue of freedom of artistic expression and the role of museums in communities got lost. A small number of the protestors took advantage of the controversy to get their "fifteen minutes of fame." They peformed for the cameras, the reporters and for anyone who spoke with them. And in the case of one artist/protestor who gave his credentials to validate his views on what is art and to criticize Alma's work, his movidas were highly suspect.

Certainly the media, especially the newspapers, played a role in exploiting Alma's work and not until letters to the editors started to point out this fact did they stop using the art piece in their reports.

Just this last weekend one of the television stations reporting on the fact that no recommendation was forthcoming from the museum showed Our Lady, with the camera taking a close up starting from the bottom up. The camera moved slowly as if caressing the image. These reports also contributed to the abuse suffered by both women. Charges that Tey Mariana was not sensitive to the community or that she was inexperienced are groundless. She has long family roots in New Mexico and is very much aware of Hispano traditions. Tey has worked at the Smithsonian and as is known not many Chicanas or Chicanos get the opportunities to work in such an environment.

Finally, this controversy was instigated by a very small number of persons in positions to impose their views on specific segments of el pueblo hispano y catolico. Censorship was the cover for the social, cultural and political issues that are impacting the Hispano community in Santa Fe in view of the changes that the city is experiencing. Teresa M.


Subject: Support for "Our Lady"... from Santa Fe
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 15:19:29 EDT

Dear Alma,

I just heard on our local public radio, "News at Noon", that the Museum's Sensitive Materials Committee has ruled that "Our Lady" will stay up!! Congratulations... Of course, we have been hearing that Trujillo, Villegas et al, will appeal the decision and I am a bit unclear what the route is after that. In my opinion, it would have been medieval-style injustice if the decision had been otherwise.

I am sorry I have not gotten around to writing you before now, but I met you at the opening in February and talked with you briefly... I am part of the small feminist group that had a private tour and conversation with Joy and Tey in mid-March... We also signed a card and sent it to you about the time when all drama started. I started my own effort of support by calling our state senator who was extraordinarily rude and unhearing... I wrote Tom Wilson (and the regents), Joy and Tey and went to both public meetings. I saw you come in at the first meeting that never developed, but didn't get a chance to speak before you were escorted out. I spoke at the second meeting in support of artistic freedom, the museum, its staff and you. At the second meeting I got a taste of the horrendous behavior and character defamation by a few people in this town and the willingness of some of the media to focus primarily on the well-orchestrated screaming and emoting...

You have been through a lot and there's more to come, I'm sure... I appreciate your poise under so much fire... Like you, although other issues are clear and obvious, I believe the real problem is that many men can't tolerate independent, self-assured women... Secondarily, many people can't tolerated change, diversity, or the suggestion that matters of God, the Spirit, or La Virgen de Guadalupe are not fixed for eternity, but are open to creativity and interpretation (beginning with one's own experience of God or the Holy Spirit or La Virgen) ...

Again, I love your work and the whole show which I have seen a number times. I am so sorry that you and the Museum (especially Joy and Tey) have had to suffer this scene, made by a few determined zealots. I hope that favorable decisions continue to be made for justice in this case...

Best wishes and hope for your continued creativity and freedom,

Freda Elliott


Subject: art
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 12:44:54 -0700
From: "Chary Olmedo" <>

Dear Alma Lopez,

I'm a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara and I'm working on an idependent project for a cross listed course (women's studies and religious studies). I intend to create a web site where the art of Chicana women is embrace.

Your strong images of La Virgen de Guadalupe has influenced a lot on my Chicana Lesbian identity. I was exposed to your art when I attended a conference at UCLA, and since then I cannot stop thinking about what it truly means to be a Chicana, Lesbian, and Catholic at the
same time. I would be honor if I can use some of your images. In other words, I'm requesting your permission to use your art in my web site, because I would be presenting it to the Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity, the Women's Center, and the Women's Studies Department.


Chary Olmedo


Subject: [AztlanNet: ARTS|LETTERS] Chicle PunishingDissidents
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 19:57:55 +0000
From: Octavio Romano <>
Organization: TQS Publications
CC: Pedro Romero Sedeno <>

Sent to Teresa Marquez on May 20, 2001
Because of my opinions held concerning the naked virgin exhibited at MOIFA, I have been banished from participating in the CHICLE listserve.

This is a request to the moderator, Teresa Marquez, who holds opinions contrary to mine, to kindly furnish me with the reason for this abrupt and unannounced termination, after 9 years of participation.

The major theme stated for the naked virgin exhibit is freedom of expression. It appears clear that Chicle's moderator does not believe in the First Amendment, except only when it agrees with her opinions.

Octavio Romano
Ph.D.UC Berkeley
PS: I have always suspected that the central issue concerning this exhibit is NOT freedom of expression. Subsequent events, in addition to Chicle's termination of my participation, have borne me out.


Subject: Your Art
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 15:58:09 -0400
From: Paul Vale <>

Hey, Art is Art. I think what you did is wry and imaginative. I can see how traditionalists might be offended, but yours would not be the first piece of religious art that did that.

Keep Creating!!

Paul Vale
Herndon VA


Subject: A misguided conception of art.
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 16:15:29 EDT

Dear Birdbrain,

You state that your intentions were not to offend the Blessed Mother. Now tell me, in what state of mind (abnormal), could you justifity degrading the most sacred woman to ever grace this planet. I'm sure, if our Mother wanted to be portrayed in this manner, She would have appeared to Saint Juan Diego dressed in such manner. Of course, nobody would have believed that this was the Blessed Mother, but some evil spirit. This defilement of your Mother, is an attempt to further your career, and to make money.

Your feminist, twisted-sisters, don't care who they offend as long as there cause is carried forward. You not only insult our Mother, but her Son also, by portraying His Mother in such a vile manner. So may Jesus, Mary, and Joseph have mercy on your soul when you die. You should consider a new career, lest you lose soul, just to become famous.


Subject: Art Decision
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 13:51:44 -0700
From: Anthony Belanger <>
To: <>

I could not be in support of you more. Congrats on the decision, and just so you know, you have another supporter.

-Anthony Belanger


Subject: Beautiful!
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 14:04:37 -0700
From: Armando Camarena <>

I'm going to send the article that I just read to my friends in France, they will laugh at the views of us Americans, but they will admire your work of art It is truly a work of art.

Armando Lopez Camarena,
Industry, California


Subject: Portrait - Our Lady
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 17:20:25 -0400
From: MARIA <CN1113@DZN.COM>

I think a picture of your Biological Mother would have been better (placed in the same picture as you did Our Lady).

Exposing the same intention but with your mother's face and body as you did with this portrait. Or how about your grandmother? Or why not yourself?

You poor thing, you probably could not get any attention with any of your other portraits and you had to use Our Lady for your personal gain.

Do some of us a favor, do not compare a woman's strength with your vulgarity, you do not speak for all Latin Women.

You speak only from the trash you are and most likely from the Devil that speaks through you.



Subject: [AztlanNet: ARTS|LETTERS] la virgen de guadalupe, alma's art
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 14:43:16 -0700
From: Dorinda Moreno <>
To: "" <>, "" <>, "" <>

the regents of the museum for international folk art have voted today that the work by alma lopez of 'la virgen de guadalupe' will stay on exhibit....of course, everyone is threatening to sue everyone. the saga continues...


Subject: [AztlanNet: ARTS|LETTERS] Re: authority?
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 15:31:56 -0700
From: Dorinda Moreno <>
To: "" <>, "" <>, Barrio Warrior <>
References: 1

Barrio Warrior wrote:
... the Museum of New Mexico Committee of Sensitive Material recommended for the collage to stay up on the exhibit. The Committee of Sensitive Material is only a recommending body that has no legal authority to enforce the policies of the museum. They are not the policy makers of the Museum, the Board of Regents are.

According to their policies and authority requirements, the Museum of New Mexico Director Tom Wilson is the  person who will make the final decision on whether it is going to stay up or down. When the Museum of New Mexico Committee of Sensitive Materials makes thier final recommendation to the Director, the concern parties can appeal thier decision to the director for review within 30 days. Apparently, the Board of Regents are responsible for the hiring of the Museum Director but they do not have the final say to what happens to this issue.

So, right now, the Board of Regents are fighting with who has the authority to decide or not decide.


Subject: Our Lady Collage
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 16:36:32 -0600
From: Dale Redd <>

Ms. Lopez,

I am writing to express my appreciation for your artwork entitled "Our Lady."  As a resident of Northern New Mexico, I am also well aware of the controversy surrounding it.  Allow me to clarify my personal platform:  I am from a Christian background; not catholic, but attended 4 years of catholic high school.  I was in a 12 year relationship with a chicana woman from a small town in New Mexico (Penasco) whose family (13 siblings) are all devout catholics, so I am somewhat familiar with the culture of New Mexican Hispanic catholics.  Culturally, I am what is called here "Anglo" although that is an inaccurate term regarding my exact European ancestry.

Having said all that, I just wanted to send you a note expressing my approval of your art, and that I in no way find it pornographic, sexually oriented, vulgar, sacreligious, or offensive.  I found it to be a stimulating, interesting piece, and have returned to view it numerous times.  The expression on the lady's face, as well as her confident stance are points of interest to me, and yes, they remind me of many strong minded, strong bodied chicanas that I have know in my life.  I would think that women from this culture would be honored that you choose to espouse their traits into a rendering of one of their most beloved icons; however closed-mindedness and anti-feminine attitudes which prevail in this geographic area have created this huge ruckus.

Personally, what I find much more offensive is etched versions of the Virgin Mary on low rider windows while the occupants inside the car are drinking, shooting dope, and abusing women.  Or tattoed images of the virgin on the arms and backs of gang bangers while they carry out their anti-social behaviour.  I used to do volunteer work up in Espanola with young people that had drug and alcohol problems.  I became close with a number of young women (teenagers) that had been subject to horrible physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their boyfriends and husbands, whom I think largely fall into the same category as those who oppose your art because it may represent a female (albeit the Virgin) that is threatening to their rampant macho egos.  Well, I for one like your picture and I'm sure I will view it again and again in the future (BTW, is there a place where one can purchase a print or poster of Our Lady?)  and I am glad that the museum decided to let it stay in the exhibit.

Dale Redd
Albuquerque, NM


Subject: Decision
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 17:10:13 -0600
To: "alma lopez" <>

    Now has come word your work will remain on display.Que barbara!In the same time came a revelation that "Our Lady"is symbolic of the church....your version of our lady is a changed one,just as the Catholic church has changed,and your work is a reflection of our society.You have hit the nail on the head without a word,that our lady is can be beautiful without seeming to be so far away.
    This is why,among other reasons,we in N.M. are happy to be host to art such as yours.


Subject: congrats?
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 17:08:24 -0700
From: unknown <>

It angers me the way you portray your self and your culture. If you want to belittle the mexican culture, do it in your own house and don't display it. The image of la virgen de Guadalupe is generally own and its not yours, so if you want to play with that image you better have teh aproval of all of us. I just hope that your need for money or the need to "dispaly your emotions" do not continue to fuck us over.

--Juan Sosa 


Subject: Our Lady
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 20:32:30 -0700
From: "Elva Buchanan" <>
To: <>


It saddens me to see how mistaken you are in your portrayal of our Lady. 

The church does not shame us for what God has given us.  God gave us our bodies as a precious gift and you have belittled that gift.  I will pray that you will see just how valuable we are and not cheapen us again.  I hope you enjoyed your pieces of silver.

Subject: Virgin Image
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 22:35:55 -0700
From: "Santiago Avila" <>
To: <>         

Dear Ms. Lopez:
          I just stumbled upon e-mail correspondence between you and Mr. Villegas of New Mexico and I wanted to relay my personal support for your position and art. I don’t find anything offensive about the image you created, on the contrary I think it’s great since it provokes thought and discussion on the subject of religion. Thank you.