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Other Views of Virgin Mary as Art Object

September 29, 1997

Thank you for publishing Father Gregory Coiro's comments on Robert Gober's so-called art at the Museum of Contemporary Art ("Gober Exhibition Insults Virgin Mary," Counterpunch, Sept. 22). I was one of those who have been insulted by Gober's senseless work. He may be the master of his craft, but this does not give him the license to insult anyone. To those who do not understand this feeling, it is like seeing your own mother's picture covered by graffiti. You see, we address the Blessed Virgin as "Mother."

ELEANOR L. SONIDO

San Marcos

In response to Father Gregory Coiro's opinion of Robert Gober's exhibition:

The Catholic Church insists that the Virgin Mary is the "Mother of God." Without getting into any debate over how the all-powerful, omnipotent creator could possibly have a mother, I must ask a simple question: Why not allow He himself to strike down the artist?

RIAZ TEJANI

Long Beach

Last week, I viewed Robert Gober's installation at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. I found the experience to be entirely different than was Father Gregory Coiro's. When I entered the installation, I experienced what I would describe as one of the most profoundly sacred spaces I have encountered in an art venue.

Of course, I did come to this installation with my personal references and experiences. I am an artist, a practicing Roman Catholic and a feminist who is very much involved in the church and maintains a devotion to Mary. As a woman, I have felt disenfranchised from the very church in which I am an active participant.

The Mary in Gober's installation is not necessarily such a radical departure from the accepted symbology of Mary. The image of Mary pierced through the abdomen with a culvert pipe may at first seem startling, yet, in many ways fitting. The church holds that Mary is a high sacred figured elevated through her humanity and her choice to say "yes" to God. This choice meant she would bear Jesus to the world. This also meant she would be "torn open" as she witnessed the persecution and death of her son. So Mary is a figure very much "pierced through" and vulnerably open, gaining for the Church a certain access to God.

Gober's presentation of Mary is evidence of Mary's ability to live beyond the institutional church. She cannot be contained by narrow definitions, she is profoundly complex, she represents many things to many people in this world and her meaning will continue to unfold.

LINDA EKSTROM

Carpinteria

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