A painting set to be unveiled at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach is upsetting the Catholic church.
Mark Ryden’s painting “Rosie’s Tea Party” shows a young girl in what appears to be her first communion dress wearing a crucifix around her neck. The girl is sawing a ham with the words “Corpus Christi,” which translates to “Body of Christ.”
There is also a bottle of wine with a picture of Jesus on the label.
Bill Donohue from the Catholic League sent the following letter to the museum’s executive director, Debi Gray:
Dear Ms. Gray:
Opening next week at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art is an exhibition that features a painting by Mark Ryden, “Rosie’s Tea Party.” It depicts a young girl in her First Communion dress, wearing a crucifix around her neck, cutting a piece of ham with the words “Corpus Christi” (Body of Christ) inscribed on it. There is a bottle of wine on the table with a picture of Jesus in it; nearby, there is a rabbit pouring a teapot with blood coming out of it.
When one of the commissioners on the Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission objected to this work, you defended it, saying, “Art is intended to be controversial.” Ryden defended his painting by saying, “I am really not poking fun at religion,” adding that “Someone ought to poke fun at those Christians, though.”
I have a suggestion. Why not substitute a young Muslim girl in a hijab, wearing a machete around her neck, cutting a piece of ham with the words, “Allahu Akbar” inscribed on it. In place of Jesus in the wine bottle, display a picture of Muhammad. And yes, please keep the blood.
When Muslims complain, tell them that “Art is intended to be controversial,” and “Someone ought to poke fun at those Muslims anyway.”
Please be sure to let me know the outcome.
The painting will be on display at the MOCA starting Saturday.