March 29, 2001
volume 12, no. 88

New Mexico Museum Defends Bikini-clad Virgin Mary    

SANTA FE, New Mexico, Mar. 28, 01 ( - A Santa Fe museum on Tuesday defended its exhibition of a painting depicting the Virgin Mary in a bikini with a bare-breasted woman as an angel in a post reminiscent of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Officials of Santa Fe's Museum of International Folk Art said "Our Lady," a digital photograph that is part of a yearlong special exhibition, would remain in place, but that they would meet with the public for comment next week. "We certainly did not anticipate such a strong reaction," museum director Joyce Ice said. "And I would hope that people are willing to continue their discussions in regard to the role of art and how it plays into community values and the freedom of expression."

Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe criticized the picture as "yet another trashing of Catholicism" that "shows the insensitivity to a large segment of Santa Feansand imprudence in the administration of a state funded institution. "In the recent past the Virgin Mary has been shown in contemporary art smeared with elephant dung and she has been depicted as a golden haired Barbie doll. Now this!" he said.

The archbishop was referring to a Brooklyn, New York, museum's 1999 depiction of the Virgin Mary made with elephant dung, and a combination Barbie doll and Virgin of Guadalupe exhibited in Santa Fe.