Museum Forum on Controversial Mary
By RICHARD BENKE, Associated Press Writer
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Roman Catholics asked museum officials Monday to remove an image of a scantily clad Virgin Mary from a photo collage, but other members of the public asked them not to censor art. Four Museum of New Mexico regents listened to citizens' comments about a photo collage by Los Angeles artist Alma Lopez at the state Museum of International Folk Art. Deacon Anthony Trujillo of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Santa Fe said Lopez's work has caused splits in families and among friends. ``We all have an opportunity to begin a healing process,'' he said, urging the regents to ``take a risk - take this piece out so this healing process can begin.'' Randy Forrester, another speaker, urged the regents to keep the display, saying the United States stands for freedom of self-expression. ``It also means the freedom to worship in the church of your choice,'' Forrester said. An estimated 600 people - the overwhelming majority Roman Catholic - flooded the 1,200- seat auditorium, debating in the aisles and breaking off into discussion groups. It may be weeks before the regents decide whether to remove ``Our Lady,'' a digital image of the Virgin wearing a two-piece outfit displaying her midriff, from a display called ``Cyber Arte: Where Tradition Meets Technology'' Lopez, a Catholic herself, has said she meant to portray the Virgin as a strong, independent, modern woman and meant no disrespect.