No Cover Image

Our Lady of Controversy

Alicia Gaspar de Alba
Alma López
Copyright Date: 2011
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/719927
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Our Lady of Controversy
    Book Description:

    Months before Alma López's digital collageOur Ladywas shown at the Museum of International Folk Art in 2001, the museum began receiving angry phone calls from community activists and Catholic leaders who demanded that the image not be displayed. Protest rallies, prayer vigils, and death threats ensued, but the provocative image of la Virgen de Guadalupe (hands on hips, clad only in roses, and exalted by a bare-breasted butterfly angel) remained on exhibition.

    Highlighting many of the pivotal questions that have haunted the art world since the NEA debacle of 1988, the contributors toOur Lady of Controversypresent diverse perspectives, ranging from definitions of art to the artist's intention, feminism, queer theory, colonialism, and Chicano nationalism. Contributors include the exhibition curator, Tey Marianna Nunn; award-winning novelist and Chicana historian Emma Pérez; and Deena González (recognized as one of the fifty most important living women historians in America).

    Accompanied by a bonus DVD of Alma López'sI Love Lupevideo that looks at the Chicana artistic tradition of reimagining la Virgen de Guadalupe, featuring a historic conversation between Yolanda López, Ester Hernández, and Alma López,Our Lady of Controversypromises to ignite important new dialogues.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-73486-9
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF IMAGES
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Our Lady of Controversy: A SUBJECT THAT NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)
    Alicia Gaspar de Alba

    In the beginning of a new millennium, Our Lady appeared in Santa Fe during Holy Week. Her appearance caused passionate discussions throughout the Americas. Hundreds met in a geographic space called Holy Faith to discuss and debate her contemporary apparition to a Chicana artist named Alma, a resident in the City of Angels.”¹

    So begins Alma López’s “respuesta” to her twenty-first-century inquisitors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who racked and pinioned her constitutional rights as an artist, her identity as a Mexico-born Chicana, and her integrity as a woman. Like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz three centuries earlier, who...

  6. 1 The Artist of Our Lady (April 2, 2001)
    (pp. 13-16)
    Alma López

    Please think of me and send me really good and supportive energy at 12 noon Los Angeles time or 10 am New Mexico time this Wednesday, April 4. Thank you.

    On Wednesday, April 4, at 10 am at the Museum of International Folk Art, the governing board of New Mexico’s state museum system will consider removing an artwork that has off ended some Roman Catholics in New Mexico.Cyber Arteis scheduled through October 28, 2001, and features four contemporary Chicana/Latina/Hispana artists who combine traditional “folk” elements with current computer technology.

    The “offending” work,Our Lady,is a photo-based digital...

  7. 2 It’s Not about the Art in the Folk, It’s about the Folks in the Art: A CURATOR’S TALE
    (pp. 17-42)
    Tey Marianna Nunn

    This chapter is parttestimonioand part scholarly research. As such I will start by sharing a few anecdotes about my experience at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and how it led me to where I am today. As a UNM graduate student in the interdisciplinary Latin American Studies Program, I was taught to think critically about Spanish colonial art and history, as well as contemporary Hispanic, Chicano, and Latino art and culture. I reveled in the classes that actually reflected components of me—my interests, my experiences, my culture, and my identity.

    I remember the first day a...

  8. 3 The War of the Roses: GUADALUPE , ALMA LÓPE Z, AND SANTA FE
    (pp. 43-68)
    Kathleen Fitzcallaghan Jones

    Santa fe is a place inherently riddled with paradox and opposition: tradition versus the avant-garde in the arts to centuriesold Spanish Catholicism versus the infringement of outsiders and secularism. These forces came to a head in 2001 with Alma López’sOur Lady. In September 2000, the Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA) in Santa Fe printed 11,000 brochures for upcoming shows and immediately released 750 to the public. The announcement forCyber Arte: Tradition Meets Technologywas found in the center with a reproduction ofOur Lady.

    In retrospect, since the explosion of emotion and turmoil in Santa Fe in...

  9. 4 Making Privates Public: IT’S NOT ABOUT LA VIRGEN OF THE CONQUEST, BUT ABOUT THE CONQUEST OF LA VIRGEN
    (pp. 69-95)
    Deena J. González

    What happens when controversy over an art piece in a museum develops in an environment redolent of religious tradition, cultural lifeways and manners, and extreme wealth or poverty? These are the historical contexts in which the controversy that developed over Alma López’sOur Ladymust be read. The manner in which López’s interpretation of the mestiza Virgen de Guadalupe would aff ront a small but exceedingly vocal, media-savvy group of New Mexican protestors has historical origins in devotional practices that date back to the sixteenth century as much as in the economic and cultural colonization that has taken place in...

  10. 5 Artr Comes for the Archbishop: THE SEMIOTICS OF CONTEMPORARY CHICANA FEMINISM AND THE WORK OF ALMA LÓPEZ
    (pp. 96-120)
    Luz Calvo

    The virgin of guadalupe is omnipresent in Chicano/a visual space.¹ She is painted on car windows, tattooed on shoulders or backs, emblazoned on neighborhood walls, and silk-screened on T-shirts sold at local flea markets. Periodically, her presence is manifested in miraculous apparitions: on a tree near Watsonville, California; on a water tank, a car bumper, or a freshly made tortilla. She is the sorrowful mother, a figure who embodies the suffering of Chicano/a and Mexican populations in the context of colonization, racism, and economic disenfranchisement.

    The Virgin of Guadalupe is a polyvalent sign, able to convey multiple and divergent meaning...

  11. 6 Queering the Sacred: LOVE AS OPPOSITIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS IN ALMA LÓPEZ’S VISUAL ART
    (pp. 121-147)
    Clara Román-Odio

    Asign of transnational solidarity, La Virgen de Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico and the Americas, as well as a political banner for Chicano and Mexican populations subjected to colonization, racism, and economic dispossession. Indeed, she has many meanings that, as Luz Calvo suggests in “Art Comes for the Archbishop,” are often “deployed by different groups for contradictory political ends.”¹ This multiplicity of meanings reflects the history and political agendas of Mexican and Mexican American communities, and examples of her legacy abound. In the colonial period,criollosappropriated the image to justify the conquest and to glorify Mexico.² The...

  12. 7 The Decolonial Virgin in a Colonial Site: IT’S NOT ABOUT THE GENDER IN MY NATION, IT’S ABOUT THE NATION IN MY GENDER
    (pp. 148-163)
    Emma Pérez

    Alma López’s digital print titledOur Ladyoffers a decolonial methodology for Chicanas who have reclaimed La Virgen de Guadalupe and reinscribed her with queer desire and pleasure. The epigraph exemplifies a decolonial critique of traditional gender roles pervasive in colonial, patriarchal ideologies. The ideology is one that promotes a virgin/whore dichotomy that remains integrated in Latino/a culture. And because López’s digital print complicates the virgin/whore binary, a controversy ensued in the Chicano nation.

    In “Art Comes for the Archbishop: The Semiotics of Contemporary Chicana Feminism and the Work of Alma López” (Chap. 5 here), Chicana feminist theorist Luz Calvo...

  13. 8 It’s Not about the Virgins in My Life, It’s about the Life in My Virgins
    (pp. 165-194)
    Cristina Serna

    On march 25, 2006, while millions of her undocumented children marched for immigrant rights in cities across the United States, Mexico’s Virgen de Guadalupe broke out of her ecclesiastical closet to join an impassioned group of Chicana, Latina, and Mexicana lesbians and queer allies as we marched in the third Mexico City Marcha Lésbica. Like our friends and families across the border, we marched to demand recognition as equal members of our communities and societies, deserving of the basic human rights to live and love free from the threat of discrimination or violence. The chants we shouted as we advanced...

  14. 9 Do U Think I’m a Nasty Girl?
    (pp. 195-211)
    Catrióna Rueda Esquibel

    I’m sure that many queer folks have memories of confronting a sexuality for which one does not yet have words. I remember those moments in northern New Mexico in the 1980s, like watchingSome Like It Hotwith my mom for the first time. On the one hand, I was dumbfounded by Marilyn Monroe’sje ne sais quoi. On the other hand, I totally identified with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, in drag and feeling hidden, caught, exposed, and overwhelmed. This same reaction was provoked by pretty much anything having to do with Prince, who seemed the epitome of gender...

  15. 10 Devil in a Rose Bikini: THE SECOND COMING OF OUR LADY IN SANTA FE
    (pp. 212-248)
    Alicia Gaspar de Alba

    On sunday, april 1, 2001,Journal North,a Santa Fe newspaper, published a very telling cartoon by Jon Richards. The cartoon shows a caricature of Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan standing next to an Ayatollah Khomeini–like figure, the image of Alma López’sOur Ladyin the background. The men appear to be looking at the image on the wall of the museum, and the Sheehan character asks: “So just how do you go about issuing a fatwa?” The cartoon is alluding to the infamous diktat of the Ayatollah’s in which he called for the assassination of Salman Rushdie for having...

  16. 11 It’s Not about the Santa in My Fe, but the Santa Fe in My Santa
    (pp. 249-292)
    Alma López

    I was born in los mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico.¹ My family migrated to the United States when I was four years old. I grew up on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border with the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe in my home. We traveled to Mexico at least once every other year, usually during Christmas vacation. On the mornings of those trips all seven of us would pile into the red Thunderbird and, after invoking the protection of La Virgen, begin our long drive south at dawn. La Virgen de Guadalupe was always present in each family home we visited...

  17. APPENDIX: CYBER ARTE: TRADITION MEETS TECHNOLOGY SELECTED VIEWER COMMENTS
    (pp. 293-310)
  18. ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 311-314)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 315-322)