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Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López's "Irreverent Apparition" (Chicana Matters) Paperback – April 1, 2011

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Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López's "Irreverent Apparition" (Chicana Matters) + Chicana and Chicano Art: ProtestArte (The Mexican American Experience)
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Product Details

  • Series: Chicana Matters
  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; Pap/DVD edition (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292726422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292726420
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,251,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"An exceptionally important and powerful collection of essays, opening new interpretive paths and new tools for the activist-scholar-student. This is the most serious consideration of the oeuvre of Alma Lopez published to date." - --Charlene Villasenor Black, Associate Professor of Art History, UCLA "This book has many great and laudable qualities. First, it doesn't "wax poetic" or try to sound overly intellectual, just strict reporting of events. Secondly, the plain tone of the writing allows for balanced and unbiased reporting; it gives equal weight to both the artist and her critics, without passing judgment on either. The author respects the fact that the icons are important to some people, and Lopez' artwork isn't something they're accustomed to." - Olive Branch United blog

About the Author

ALICIA GASPAR DE ALBA is a Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies, English, and Women’s Studies at UCLA. Her nine previous books encompass historical novels, poetry, short stories, and a cultural study of Chicano art.

ALMA LÓPEZ is an artist, activist, and visual storyteller originally from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico.

More About the Author

Professor Alicia Gaspar de Alba is a celebrated writer and scholar. She took her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico in 1994. A founding faculty member and former chair of the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies (2007-2010), her work explores gender and sexuality, Chicana/o art, popular culture, and border studies. Known to her students as La Profe, she teaches courses on border consciousness, bilingual creative writing, Chicana lesbian literature, and barrio popular culture.

With novels that have been translated into Spanish, German and Italian, Gaspar de Alba has published numerous books, articles, short stories, and poetry. Her 2011 book, Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López's "Irreverent Apparition," co-edited with Alma López herself, serves as a Chicana feminist response to the religious opposition against Lopez's digital collage, "Our Lady," and offers diverse perspectives on art, censorship, first-amendment rights, the alignment of Church and State, and Chicano nationalism. Her 2010 anthology (co-edited with her graduate student, Georgina Guzmán) Making a Killing: Femicide, Free Trade, and La Frontera and her 2005 mystery novel, Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders examine the unresolved murders of over five hundred poor Mexican women and girls that have taken place on the border between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico since 1993.

In 2001, Gaspar de Alba won First Place in Historical Fiction in the Latino Literary Hall of Fame for her debut historical novel Sor Juana's Second Dream (1999), a Chicana lesbian interpretation of the life of Latin America's "tenth muse," the 17th-century nun/poet/scholar Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Desert Blood (2005) was awarded both a Lambda Literary Foundation Award for Best Lesbian Mystery and a Latino Book Award for Best Mystery in English. Mystery of Survival, her short story collection, was awarded the 1994 Premio Aztlán, a Rudolfo Anaya-endowed literary award for a first book of fiction by an emerging Chicana/o writer. Her doctoral dissertation "Mi Casa [No] Es Su Casa: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation Exhibit" won the 1994 Ralph Henry Gabriel American Studies Association Award for Best Dissertation, and is the basis for her 1998 book, Chicano Art Inside/Outside the Master's House. She also received a 1993 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and a 1992 Chicana Dissertation Fellowship from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 1999, she was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship for Latino/a Cultural Study at the Smithsonian. In 2008, she was awarded the UCLA Gold Shield Faculty Award for Academic Excellence.

Along with her teaching and scholarly work, Gaspar de Alba has also organized three important conferences at UCLA. As part of the 2010 quinceañera celebration of the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies, Gaspar de Alba organized an all-day Valentine's symposium, "Sex y Corazón: Queer and Feminist Theory at the Vanguard of the New Chicana/o Studies," which examined how Chicana/o queer and feminist scholars have changed Chicana/o Studies over the past 15 years. In 2003, she organized "The Maquiladora Murders, Or, Who Is Killing the Women of Juárez?" a three-day international conference about the epidemic of femicides that have been occurring on the U.S.-Mexico border since 1993, and in 2001 she organized "Otro Corazón: Queering the Art of Aztlán," a Valentine's day tribute to the creative spirit of queer Chicana/o visual artist, performance artists, writers, and critics.

Gaspar de Alba holds joint appointments in the departments of English and Women's Studies, and is a longstanding member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Faculty Advisory Committee. From 2002-2004, she served as Associate Director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and co-editor of Aztlán: A Chicano Studies Journal, and from 2000-2001, she was appointed Interim Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Studies Program. Before joining the faculty at UCLA, she worked as a Braille transcriber at the National Braille Press in Massachusetts and taught English Composition and ESL courses at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

A native of the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border, Gaspar de Alba now resides in Los Angeles, California with her wife, digital artist and muralist Alma López, and their two cats.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By vica g on June 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I share a different perspective than many of you who see Lopez's work as degarding our Nuestra Madre Guadalupe. To me the image in Lopez's work fearlessly and dramatically says that

1) all women carry Nuestra Madre with and inside us, regardless of what we are wearing or doing, i.e. wearing a bikini or boxing gloves, working in fields, jogging, sewing, etc.;

2)Our Mother Guadalupe is not passive and submission like she is shown in the typical Virgen images;

3) SHE is strong, she gazes directly at you not the floor, she has a stance of unity with the viewer and her hands will fight to defend all of us

4) The image in Lopez's art repeats what we women know: we are not about our bodies. We are not sexual objects. We are more than our bodies: put us in bikinis and we will still fight for our dignity (hence the boxing gloves); take our clothes off and we will use our Madre's roses to cover our breasts which feed our children and our vaginas that are our children's doorway to life; strip us and we will still stare your eyes down; heave color on us to make our bodies toys and we will still stand straight without a loss of our powerful woman identity. We are not just nalgas and breasts, vaginas and legs. We are enshrined by our Madre with dignity and the physical strength to love and defend our familias AND OURSELVES.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Trudie Barreras VINE VOICE on December 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is another that I would never have discovered had it not been for my long-term commitment to the Jesus in Love blogspot of author Kittredge Cherry. Although I've enjoyed the art of Alma López on the blog and in Cherry's book "Art that Dares" (also reviewed for Amazon), it wasn't until I received this incredible documentary work as a gift from Kittredge a few days ago that I was fully immersed in the significance of the writing and art of Gaspar de Alba and López.

Since I was born in Albuquerque, NM, and am quite familiar with Santa Fe, the Hispanic culture (my husband is also a native New Mexican, with Hispanic heritage), I am a bit appalled that I completely missed the controversy sparked in 2001 by the exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art of "Our Lady" by Alma López. I can only attribute it to the fact that, living in Atlanta, GA, and no longer having any close friends or relatives in that area who might have realized my deep interest and tipped me off, it is a decade later that I'm finally becoming aware.

Actually, also as a result of a reference from Cherry's Jesus in Love blog, I had already read Alicia Gaspar de Alba's exceptionally fine biographical novel, "Sor Juana's Second Dream", which I reviewed for Amazon in 2010, so I am not surprised to find that her editing and other contributions to this excellent documentary are absolutely on target. In her chapter entitled "Devil in a Rose Bikini", de Alba begins with a description (and reproduction) of a cartoon by Jon Richards. The cartoon depicts the Archbishop and an Imam in front of the controversial "Our Lady" picture. The Archbishop is asking, "So just how do you go about issuing a fatwa?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Angelique on August 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have studied López's work for several years. I am a great admirer of Gaspar de Alba's. What a book! Thank God for female subjectivity and empowerment. I was raised catholic and have lived on both sides of the border so I understand all of the arguments and critique I have read, but let's not get lost in the myth. The beauty, as I see it, of religion and tradition(s) is that WE create it/them. Our images of faith should be malleable, ever changing and growing, like our culture(s), language(s) and lives. Strong supporter! Viva la Woman!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shimon de Valencia on November 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
By presenting an expansive and detailed history, Ms de Alba has illuminated a difficult issue with sensitivity, balance and understanding of the issues raised in the 'Our Lady' controversy. What emerges is a lively, entertaining and enlightening read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Catholic Church and its administrators have been hiding their despicable behavior behind the veneer of a religious icon meant to represent the very people they have duped.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Feminist Texican Reads on September 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
In 2001, the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico invited Chicana lesbian artist/activist Alma López to participate in a cyber art exhibit showcasing artwork by Chicana artists. One of López's contributions, a digital collage titled Our Lady, ignited a firestorm of controversy and became the target of massive organized protests. Michael J. Sheehan, archbishop of Santa Fe at the time, stirred up more drama by referring to Our Lady as "a tart" and "a streetwalker." Though the exhibition's curator, Tey Marianna Nunn, fought for-and won-the right to keep Our Lady displayed for the duration of the exhibit, both Nunn and López received a barrage of hate mail and death threats. By printing the artwork on the front page of papers (without context and without permission) under headlines referring to the "Bikini Virgin," the media-local, national, and international-sensationalized matters even more.

In the decade since these events initially occurred, several major scholars have analyzed the controversy through the contexts of feminism, colonialism, queer theory, art theory, and Chicana/o history. This is a collection of essays and personal accounts that offers some of these diverse scholarly perspectives.

In reading these essays, a few things about the controversy immediately stood out to me: 1) the people at the center of the protests were all male; 2) at the root of the protests was misogyny and homophobia; and 3) the protesters all believed the image of La Virgen was theirs-"tasteful" artistic renderings of La Virgen (i.e. fully clothed, modest, subservient) were fine, but anyone who stepped out of this box was accused of blasphemy and/or not being a "real" Catholic.
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