In The Name Of God – Art, Censorship and Hypocrisy

Alma Lopez

In honor of the the Pagan rituals of Spring, (that were adopted by the Christians and re-named Easter), I thought a little commentary on the recent attacks on artistic freedom (and freedom in general) would be in order. Right here in our own back yard, a turmoil about art and god is a brewing… yes, even here in the wonderfully liberal Bay Area – the zealots find ways to fill their empty lives by attacking artists. This beautiful piece (above) Our Lady” by Alma Lopez, of a modern Mary is under attack. Personally, I think Mary would have been honored by the strong attitude of this woman, her body decorated in celebratory flowers and gracefully adorned within the altar. And didn’t “God create” women with breasts? Oh… I could go on and on here… 

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property  (or the Un-American Society for the Suppression of Arts, Freedom, Women and Their Breasts) has begun a campaign against Alma Lopez’s “Our Lady,” part of the Contemporary Coda exhibition that is being presented with the Splendors of Faith/Scars of Conquest exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California. The group has pegged “Our Lady” as blasphemous for portraying Our Lady of Guadalupe in a bikini, held aloft by a topless woman angel, and has urged the museum to remove it. The Oakland Museum of California has stated that it will remain in the show. The group will hold a protest in front of the museum on Saturday, May 21. Let’s get out there and show our support, we can be proud of our art and our bodies.

On Saturday, April 30, the Oakland Museum of California will hold a panel discussion on Art, Religion, and Censorship. Alma Lopez is slated to participate.
“Splendors of Faith/Scars of Conquest and Contemporary Coda” will be on view until May 29th.

Andres Serrano

On another front; recently on Saturday April 16th, 2011, in Avignon, France, the warm, glowing photograph by Andres Serrano, titled “Piss Christ” (above) was attacked yet again.

… on Palm Sunday morning, four people in sunglasses aged between 18 and 25 entered the exhibition just after it opened at 11am. One took a hammer out of his sock and threatened the guards with it. A guard grabbed another man around the waist but within seconds the group managed to take a hammer to the plexiglass screen and slash the photograph with another sharp object, thought to be a screwdriver or ice-pick. They also smashed another work, which showed the hands of a meditating nun.
The gallery director, Eric Mézil, said it would reopen with the destroyed works on show “so people can see what barbarians can do”. He said there had been a kind of “inquisition” against the art work.
Serrano defended his photograph as a criticism of the “billion-dollar Christ-for-profit industry” and a “condemnation of those who abuse the teachings of Christ for their own ignoble ends”. It was vandalised in Australia, and neo-Nazis ransacked a Serrano show in Sweden in 2007.”  - from The GuardianUK
From “Shooting the Klan”, an interview with the artist - 
 I am not a heretic. I like to believe that rather than destroy icons, I make new ones.”
Attacks on art (and humans) have occurred through-out history in the name of religion and God. The hypocrisy of these acts never ceases to amaze me and further my rejection of any organized religion. At the basis of these acts is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of different beliefs and fear of things they don’t understand- basically ignorance. Is the religious right so insecure in their own beliefs that they can be so threatened by a piece of art? The answer is yes. It is so sad that fear can rule people’s lives and instigate them to attack or abuse others, limit perspectives and freedoms and imprison themselves in their own narrow world.
Tolerance and education are the keys to peace in a civilized society. You don’t have to “like” or agree with every piece of art, there is room for all in this world. Sometimes, educating oneself on the artist’s intent will open up a whole new world of understanding and clear up rash misunderstandings. There is so much beauty, fun and food for thought in iconic and religious art, modern and traditional, why not enjoy it all?

Shawn Barber

Paul Fryer

Skot Olsen

Paul Fryer

Lady Gaga

Max Ernst

Clovis Trouille

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