A recent controversy over an art piece on display in Santa Fe raises new questions concerning the artistic expression of certain Hispanic-American ideals.
“Our Lady,” a piece that depicts an almost nude Virgin Mary, is part of the Museum of International Folk Art’s exhibit “CyberArte: Tradition Meets Technology,” and has attracted the attention of conservatives from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Santa Fe, who want the piece removed for its blasphemous nature.
In light of the incident, UNM Spanish professor Dr. Tey Diana Rebolledo presented the talk “Las Claravidentes: Chicana Artists and Writers, Gender, Ethnicity and Creativity,” at the University Art Museum Wednesday as part of the Cultural Studies Colloquium. Her speech focused on the work of Chicana artists Marie Romero Cash and Alma L¢pez, creator of “Our Lady,” as well as two Chicana writers, Pat Mora and Margarita Cota-C†rdenas.
“Although the image may be offensive to some, it is an important piece of art that honestly educates the public on Hispanic experiences in this country,” Rebolledo states in her newsletter, which advocates against the piece’s removal.
“We feel that although the offended parishioners have the right to request the removal of the piece, the Museum of New Mexico should not do so,” Rebolledo’s said.
L¢pez’s piece was not the only controversial work represented in Rebolledo’s speech. Chicana boldness was at the heart of Rebolledo’s message. A sculpture by Romero Cash depicted the Trinity transformed into a “quarteto” with the addition of the Virgin Mary to the group, and Cota-C†rdenas advises her readers to “busca tu nombre dentro de ti,” or “look for your name inside yourself.”
In her attempt to examine the truthfulness behind bold Chicana works, Rebolledo offered some perspective from her own experience as a woman in the Catholic Church.
“One of the things the Catholic Church told us in my time is that you shouldn’t read the Bible — that it should be interpreted by the priest,” Rebolledo said.
The Chicana artists and writers covered in Rebolledo’s presentation were not afraid to tell their stories and give advice to others to hear their own voices.
As Lopez’s artistic statement comes under scrutiny, the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents will meet April 4 to discuss the fate of the piece. Rebolledo advises all who are concerned to contact local government offices and to “make your voices heard now.”
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