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    López, Alma, 1966-
    Silencing our lady : la respuesta de alma / Alma Lopez

    Aztlan: a Journal of Chicano studies (Los Angeles, CA) . -- Vol. 26, no.2 ( Fall 2001)

    p. 249-267 : ill.
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    López, Alma. "Silencing our lady : la respuesta de alma." Aztlan: a Journal of Chicano studies (Los Angeles, CA) 26, no.2 (Fall 2001): 249-267
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Los Angeles-based artist Alma Lopez describes the controversy surrounding the display of Our Lady, a photo-based digital print that was part of the exhibition Cyber Arte: Tradition Meets Technology at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2001. Lopez discusses her background as a Chicana artist and defends her modern-day Chicana version of the Virgin of Guadalupe as a manifestation of her personal relationship with a religious and cultural icon as such and as an image of a beautiful, strong Mary. The essay details the opposition to the art piece led by religious activists Jose Villegas, Catholic Church Deacon Anthony Trujillo, and New Mexico Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan. The author ends with a note describing the aftermath of the controversy as well as the support she received from other artists in Santa Fe.


Alma Lopez is an artist-activist working in painting, photo-based digital prints, and video, which she uses to recontextualize cultural icons in order to address issues of race, gender, and sexuality. She created Our Lady for Cyber Arte, an exhibition that aimed to introduce people familiar with Latino cultural iconography to new technologies and vice versa. In this extremely detailed and personal essay written during the controversy, Lopez recounts her reaction to the polemical issues over the image, death threats included. She also provides her defense not only as an artist, but also as a Chicana with the cultural right to express her relationship to the Virgin of Guadalupe. She makes a strong connection to a long line of other Chicana artists who have exercised this same right, including the seminal images in the early 1970s by Ester Hernandez and Yolanda Lopez (who also received death threats). Equally important, as an artist and Chicana, Lopez’s essay delves into the deeper issues brought forth by this controversy over what is ultimately a mere digital image: artistic censorship, gender politics, and ownership of religious/cultural images.

Tere Romo
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
From Aztlán: a Journal of Chicano Studies 26 no. 2 (2001): 249-67
© 2001 by Regents of the University of California. Reprinted with permission of UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press, Los Angeles, CA