July 5, 2015
Milwaukee Museum Will Exhibit A Portrait Of Pope Made Entirely Of Condoms

A Milwaukee museum will exhibit a portrait of Pope Benedict XVI, and it's made entirely of condoms.

The Milwaukee Art Museum hopes the exhibit will get people talking about the AIDS epidemic in Africa and how art plays a part in opening a dialogue about important issues the world faces, the Milwaukee museum's director Dan Keegan explained to Reuters on Monday.

The portrait of Pope Benedict XVI is made of very colorful condoms, about 17,000 of them, and is entitled, "Eggs Benedict."

Of course, such a controversial piece of artwork has upset some people in Milwaukee. Museum officials have said about 200 callers have complained about the portrait of Pope Benedict XVI.

Milwaukee Catholic Archbishop Jerome Listecki was not impressed with the artwork and said so in a blog last week on the Archdiocese website.

"An artist who claims his or her work is some great social commentary and a museum that accepts it... (and) insults a religious leader of a church whose charitable outreach through its missionaries and ministers has eased the pain of those who suffer throughout the world, must understand the rejection of this local action by the believers who themselves have been insulted."
Listecki also wrote, "We have lost the sense of sacred and in so doing, everything becomes profane and is subjected to our own individual appreciation."

Despite these complaints, the Milwaukee museum will exhibit a portrait of Pope Benedict made entirely of condoms in November, according to Milwaukee museum spokeswoman Vicki Scharfberg.

The Milwaukee Art Museum said callers who support the portrait outweigh the number of callers who do not support the portrait.

The portrait was completed two years ago by Milwaukee artist Niki Johnson. Johnson was inspired to create the portrait because of Pope Benedict's stance against the use of condoms even to stop the AIDS epidemic in Africa. The pope later said it was permissible to use condoms to stop the AIDS epidemic, although CNN recalls the pope believed condoms could make the AIDS epidemic worse.

Johnson said, "It seemed only fitting that the material he was resisting would be the material his portrait would be made of," Johnson said. "I made it with the intention of it to be a beautiful object."

According to CNN, the Milwaukee museum has sold a record number of memberships recently.

Milwaukee museum director Keegan said, "We look forward to continuing the dialogue around this work and the role art plays in society."

[Photo by CNS]