Santa Fe New Mexican

Work not meant to offend, L.A. artist says

By:Anne Constable/The New Mexican
March 24, 2001

Alma Lopez is a Los Angeles visual and public artist. She grew up in northeast Los Angeles in a community named El Serreno. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1988 and a master's degree in fine arts from the University of California at Irvine in 1996. She has produced murals and digital murals in collaboration with artists and community members in California, Nevada, Texas and Wisconsin.

Lopez is director and co-founder of Homegirl Productions, a public and visual-art collaborative that focuses on African American and Hispanic experiences. She's also a co-founding member of L.A. Coyotes, a Chicana-artists collective and co-founding member of Tongues, which she described on her Web site as a brown and black queer Webzine.

Our Lady, a digital photograph of the Virgin of Guadalupe dressed in a floral bikini, is part of a series of prints called Lupe & Sirena. In another image titled Encuentro, López depicts the virgin joining hands with a mermaid. In a third, the mermaid is being embraced by the virgin while a small boy in the foreground holds a lighted candle.

After Our Lady was featured on a Sunday-morning television program in Los Angeles, Lopez received an e-mail charging, "Your painting has attacked THE MOTHER OF THE AMERICAS.Would you have painted your own mother this way? This is OUR MOTHER."

López replied, "The work I do comes from my heart and is not meant to disrespect nor offend. I have a relationship with the Virgen of Guadalupe since I was born in Mexico, baptized Catholic and grew up in East L.A. with the Virgen in my home and community."

"I am blessed with an artistic talent and do not apologize for my work, nor my creativity." she added. Lopez has also produced a series on land, border migrations, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and Mexican Americans in the United States.

Our Lady is also the cover art for a book published by the University of Arizona titled Puro Teatro: A Latina Anthology. Lopez has won numerous awards including a 1997 Design Excellence in Public Art award from Los Angeles cultural-affairs department for a digital-mural project and a 1998 individual artist grant from the city of Los Angeles.

Her art work is online at Her e-mail address is

Copyright 2001 Santa Fe New Mexican