A life-sized sculpture of an anatomically correct Jesus made out of chocolate has drawn the ire of a Roman Catholic organization and forced a Manhattan art gallery to reconsider exhibiting it during Easter week.
The sculpture, called ‘My Sweet Lord, has infuriated Catholics as they prepare to observe one of their holiest holidays.
The six foot tall sculpture by Cosimo Cavallaro was supposed to debut Monday, four days before Good Friday, the day Christians mark the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The final day of the exhibit at the Lab Gallery inside Manhattan’s Roger Smith Hotel was planned to be on Easter Sunday.
“This is one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever,” said Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League, a watchdog group. “It’s not just the ugliness of the portrayal, but the timing — to choose Holy Week is astounding.”
The Lab Gallery and the hotel were inundated by angry telephone calls and emails according to the gallery’s creative director, Matt Semler.
“We’re obviously surprised by the overwhelming response and offense people have taken,” said Semler. “We’re considering our options. We’re still assessing the situation.”
Semler said that the timing of the sculpture exhibit concurring with Easter was a coincidence. He also said that the hotel had no knowledge of what the gallery was showing and was unfairly targeted.
“They would never dare do something similar with a chocolate statue of the prophet Mohammad naked with his genitals exposed during Ramadan,” said Kiera McCaffrey, director of communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
The Catholic league does not intend to bring legal action but seeks to punish the hotel with a boycott.
New York is no stranger to peculiar clashes between art and religion. In 1999, then Mayor Rudy Giuliani threatened to take a grant away from the Brooklyn Museum of Art for showing a painting depicting the Virgin Mary as a black woman splattered with elephant dung.
The sculpture was created from more than 200 pounds of milk chocolate. It features Christ with his arms outstretched. The artwork does not include a loincloth or any covering.
Cavallaro, who was raised in Canada and Italy, is best known for his quirky food art, which includes repainting a Manhattan hotel room in melted mozzarella, spraying five tons of pepper jack cheese on a Wyoming home, and festooning a four post bed with 312 pounds of ham.