Yolanda López, Artist Whose Restyled Mary Resonated, Dies at 78. And Marian iconography in Rochester.

Yolanda López, Artist Whose Restyled Mary Resonated, Dies at 78. And Marian iconography in Rochester.

St. Mary’s Church, 15 St. Mary’s Place, Rochester, NY THE MADONNA OF THE HIGHWAYS. The base reads: “Built in Wood A.D. 1943” and “Rebuilt in Stone A.D. 1955” [Photo: David Kramer, 6/16/20]

Today,  “Yolanda López, Artist Whose Restyled Mary Resonated, Dies at 78” (Lori Finkel, The New York Times, 9/20/21)reported on the death of Yolanda López, an artist and activist, whose work inspired younger generations of Latina artists to rethink the Roman Catholic icon, a popular with Mexicans and Mexican American.

                                   NOT EVEN HIS MOTHER

by George Cassidy Payne

I am not Christian nor Catholic, but sought out sculptures of the Virgin Mary throughout Rochester. Finding the statues often in tucked away places, I am moved by their serene and universal power.

Visiting the statues and shrines feels to a degree like going back in time to a place when Roman Catholicism was more interwoven into the daily lives of Rochester neighborhoods. At the same time, reading López’s obituary on how she “boldly recast the Virgin of Guadalupe into her own image,” transformed into “an image of radical feminist optimism” reminded me of Mary’s enduring vitality as a symbol of many kinds of faith.

(left) Saint Michael’s of Rochester Roman Catholic church, 859 North Clinton Avenue; (right) Our Lady’s Grotto outside McQuaid Jesuit High School in Brighton, NY. Inscription: Gift of the Mother’s Club and the Father’s Club, 1957. Plaque reads: Our Lady’s Grotto, Redicated in 2007 in honor of Gina & Bill Outwelen. In both pictures, Mary is depicting standing on top of a snake representing satan or the devil. [Photos: David Kramer, 6/16/20] See An eerie quiet at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Brighton

(left) Our Lady Queen of Peace and St. Thomas More, 601 Edgewood Avenue, Brighton, NY; (center) Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church, 150 Varinna Drive Brighton, NY In the garden donated by the Klee Family; (right) St. Boniface Church, 330 Gregory St, Rochester, NY [Photos: David Kramer, 6/16, 6/17 and 6/18/20] See Burned Over: on the search for some of Rochester’s most sacred Christian sites

Our Lady of Mercy High School, 1437 Blossom Rd, Brighton, NY (left) the plaque in the small garden reads: In Memory of Sr. Helen Anne Lorey 1940 – 1963. Mary is depicting standing on top of a snake representing satan or the devil. (right) In Memory of John F. Kennedy, 1917 – 1963, Donated by Vito € Joseph F. Micoli [Photos: David Kramer, 6/17/20] See An eerie quiet at Nazareth College 

8/31/21 At the St. Mary’s Campus on Genesee Street and West Main, site of the former St. Mary’s Hospital [Photos: David Kramer] From Hawthorne and the Pandemic Visit the Instantaneous City

9/19/21 St. Anne’s Community, Durand Senior Apartments, St. Salome Apartments, on 4250 Culver Road. Yesterday, when biking back from Durand Beach after a swimming excursion, I stopped at the St. Anne’s Community on 4250 Culver Road, there taking a moment of quiet meditation. Saint Anne was the mother of Mary and the maternal grandmother of Jesus.  [Photo: David Kramer]

9/20/21 St. Anne’s Church, 1660 Mt. Hope Avenue. Saint Anne was the mother of Mary and the maternal grandmother of Jesus.  [Photos: David Kramer]

9/21/21 St John the Evangelist Church, Peace of Christ Parish, 553 Humboldt Street [Photo: David Kramer]

9/20/21 Immaculate Conception/St Bridget’s Church, 445 Frederick Douglass Street [Photo: David Kramer]



A Black Lives Matter solidarity rally with commentary from Kholaa and a walk down Joseph Avenue

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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