Critics say photo is all wet

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The archbishop of Santa Fe apparently feels strongly that clothes make a woman. He says a bikini-clad version of the Virgin Mary shown in a folk art museum depicts her "as if she were a tart" and should be removed.

But Alma Lopez, the Los Angeles artist who designed the photo collage on a computer, says she doesn't see what's offensive about showing the Virgin of Guadalupe as a modern woman, "a strong woman, like us."

The regents of the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe this week began considering whether to remove the work from the state-funded Museum of International Folk Art but ended up postponing the meeting because there was not enough room to hold everyone who wanted to comment.

The collage depicts Mary in a midriff-baring two-piece outfit covered with flowers. Mary stands barefoot, hands on hips with elbows akimbo and chin up in a pose that could be interpreted as a defiant stance.

Archbishop Michael Sheehan said he found Lopez's image insulting and expressed frustration with Catholic images being singled out.

"No one would dream of putting Martin Luther King in Speedos and desecrating his memory by putting him in some outlandish outfit. I wouldn't want anyone to do that," Sheehan said.