Artist Lucinda Naylor has created a 6-foot-high, wave-shaped sculpture from nearly 2,000 anti-gay marriage DVDs mailed out by Minnesota's Catholic bishops.
The symbolic protest that goes on display this weekend is her response to the bishops, who mailed out nearly 400,000 of the DVDs to Minnesota Catholics spelling out church teachings on gay marriage and urging them to support candidates who endorse putting the issue to a vote.
The mailing evoked protests that the church was inserting itself into partisan politics and alienating parishioners who support gay rights.
"My whole idea all along was transforming something that was divisive into something that was inclusive," Naylor said. "Wave of change is sort of what's in my brain. I'm trying to make the art symbolic of the movement of the Holy Spirit in the church, which would usually mean a water or fire motif."
Naylor, 53, had been a part-time artist at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis for 15 years until she created a Facebook site seeking discarded copies of the DVD to build the sculpture. Days later, she was suspended indefinitely.
The archdiocese has said neither Archbishop John Nienstedt nor anyone on his staff was behind Naylor's suspension, though they supported the move.
Archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath declined to comment Thursday on the sculpture, which will be on display at 2756 Hennepin Av. S. in Minneapolis through the weekend. Naylor said she expects it will also be displayed in November.
Undeterred by her suspension, Naylor went forward with plans to create the DVD sculpture and said she collected or received nearly half the 2,000 discs from people protesting their distribution.
Many came with notes praising her work or criticizing the DVD's content. The 18-minute production includes an appearance by Nienstedt and stresses the need for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Minnesota.
To jibe with her wave motif, Naylor painted one side of the DVDs a light blue, blocking out the image on the discs of a man and woman's hands entwined and wearing wedding rings and the statement: "View now for an urgent message from Archbishop John Nienstedt." She also made cuts in the DVDs and interlocked them to create the waves.
"A lot of change in the church happens from the ground up," she said. "The hierarchy doesn't always like to admit that. So I think it's one of those things where the people are saying one thing and something else is happening up here. But that doesn't mean that wave won't eventually wash up that way."
About 1,000 DVDs for Naylor's sculpture came from the ReturnTheDVD.org project. The project's organizer Bob Radecki, of Burnsville, said the group has been sent close to 3,000 DVDs, and has received donations or pledges of almost $10,000 to help the poor.
Radecki said the group has requested a meeting with the archbishop to deliver the DVDs and a letter asking him to focus more attention on the poor and less on gay marriage. He said so far they have not gotten a response.
The group shared the DVDs with Naylor at the request of people who sent in their DVDs, Radecki said.
"Our biggest problem is the current leadership seems to be way too focused on that issue [gay marriage]," he said.
"People feel like what the church has done is hurting people. The majority of them are more sad and disappointed than angry. I actually think a lot of people are very hurt by the approach."