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Art Work Attacked in Colorado Museum [UPDATED]

A view of the controversial 12-panel lithograph by Enrique Chagoya, titled “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals” (2004) (image via 5280.com)

Kathleen Folden, 56, of Kalispell, Montana, has been charged with attacking an art work by California-based artist Enrique Chagoya with a crowbar while it was on display in the Loveland Museum Gallery in Loveland, Colorado. The 12-panel lithograph, according to the artist’s statement to FoxNews, depicts “no nudity, or genitals, or explicit sexual contact” and portrays “a dressed woman, a religious icon’s head, a man showing his tongue, and a skull of a Pope in the upper right corner of the controversial page.”

Kathleen Folden is charged with the attack on Chagoya's lithograph (image via www.ci.loveland.co.us)

Critics of the work argue that it represents Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the son of God, as receiving oral sex from another man. FoxNews gives its own interpretation of the work and describes it as having “several images of Jesus, including one in which he appears to be receiving oral sex from a man as the word ‘orgasm’ appears beside Jesus’ head.” The attack took place last Wednesday at 4pm.

Chagoya’s work is part of an 82-print exhibit by 10 artists who have worked with Colorado printer Bud Shark. “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals” (2004), FoxNews says, has been the subject of protests this week, though critics have been vocal about their disdain for the work since the exhibition opened on September 11, 2010.

The artist explains that “I did not make a picture of Christ. I used symbols as one would use words in a sentence to critique corruption of the sacred by religious institutions.”

A police spokesman told FoxNews that the work has a tear in the panel with the depiction of Christ, though the Museum’s website explains that the damage was much more severe:

The controversial artwork that was destroyed yesterday by a Montana woman is no longer on display at the Loveland Museum/Gallery.  The remaining portions of the piece were removed by police shortly after the incident and are being kept as evidence.

Photo of about 40 protesters outside the Loveland Museum on October 1, 2010. (photo by John Prieto/ The Denver Post)

The Museum also says it will not replace the damaged print. The report also details the attack:

Using a crowbar, she then broke the Plexiglas that protected the image and tore up the artwork. She cut herself in the process of doing so.

FoxNews spoke to Chagoya who believes the incident attacked the First Amendment:

“Should we as artists, or any free-thinking people, have to be subjected to fear of violent attacks for expressing our sincere concerns? I made a collage with a comic book and an illustration of a religious icon to express the corruption of something precious and spiritual … There is no nudity, or genitals, or explicit sexual contact shown in the image. There is a dressed woman, a religious icon’s head, a man showing his tongue, and a skull of a Pope in the upper right corner of the controversial page. I did not make a picture of Christ. I used symbols as one would use words in a sentence to critique corruption of the sacred by religious institutions.”

Chaguya’s takes aim at a number of religious figures, including Muhammad, who is depicted here with prostitute pigs (via blazingcatfur.blogspot.com)

The chatter on the Museum’s Facebook page demonstrates how galvanizing the issue is as Museum supporters are chiming in to say how “atrocious” the incident is and how they are “sick and tired of the religious zealots cramming their baloney down [their] throats,” while critics are posting that it is “unconscionable that someone can produce a piece of art that places Jesus Christ in a position He would never have been in and it is applauded.”

Christians seem to be the only ones objecting to the art work, though Chagoya’s work also includes other images that could be viewed as offensive, including an unveiled image of Mohammad kneeling in front of a bed topped by pigs dressed in a way associated with prostitutes.

One right-wing blog, in what can be construed as an attempt to stoke the fires of Islamophobia, posted the Muslim image and wrote:

Let’s see what the “hypocrites who deem it ok to demean Christian symbols” do now that Mohammed has been found consorting with Pig Hookers in the same exhibit. If Enrique Chagoya and the Loveland Museum thought they had problems before wait till the Muslim hordes pick up on this.

There have been no reports of protests from Muslim groups.

It’s obvious this man hasn’t even seen the art work he is protesting. (image via Denver Post)

Remarkably, one of the protest signs being carried outside the Museum, and spotted by the Denver Post earlier this week, asks, “Would U Depict Mohommed [sic] In This Manner?” and a Letter to the Editor to the Denver Post displayed the same confusion and asks, “Would they dare to display the same work with Mohammed portrayed as Jesus has been?” The sign and letter suggests that many of the protesters are unaware of the realities of the art work they are protesting and are simply rallying behind an ideological cause based on second-hand knowledge.

You can watch a local news report about the protests here.

The Denver Post has an update on the attacker and they report:

Folden, 56, targeted “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals” for religious reasons, according to the arrest affidavit, released Thursday.

Folden, arrested by Loveland police Wednesday afternoon at the Loveland Museum/Gallery, faces a felony charge of criminal mischief and a fine of up to $2,000.

On Thursday, Folden made her first court appearance and a Larimer County magistrate judge granted her release on $350 bond. The money was posted by a person who asked to remain anonymous.

The comments on this Denver Post story are notable in that they continue to parrot the false notion that the artist was only targeting Christianity and one commenter writes, “I wish they would have the guts to put up the same so called art of Mohamed [sic] and see what happens to it.”
A view of a copy of the controversial lithograph, which is available through the George Adams Gallery and is listed on Artnet
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