FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A Montana woman accused of taking a crowbar to controversial artwork for religious reasons pleaded not guilty Friday in Colorado.
Kathleen Folden, 56, a truck driver from Kalispell, Mont., declined to comment during a court appearance, where she learned she would stand trial in January.
She is charged with one count of criminal mischief, a felony that carries a penalty of between two and six years.
Folden was arrested Oct. 6 in the Loveland Museum/Gallery after witnesses said she used a crowbar to smash glass shielding a print by Stanford University art professor Enrique Chagoya.
The print at issue, one of several copies of the work, includes figures cut out from a comic book, including a head resembling Christ and a skeleton with a pope’s hat.
Critics said the work depicted Jesus engaged in a sex act, but Chagoya said the work has been mischaracterized and doesn’t show Christ. He said the work is a collage, and the controversial panel was aimed at expressing “the corruption of the spiritual by the church.”
Folden was led out of the museum in handcuffs wearing a T-shirt with a Christian slogan, “My Savior Is Tougher Than Nails.” According to court documents, Folden told police she drove from Montana to Colorado specifically to destroy the artwork for “religious reasons.”
Her arrest came after protesters picketed the museum and failed to persuade city leaders to remove the print.
Folden declined to comment outside court and again seemed to let her T-shirt speak for her instead. Printed on the back was a cross with bloody nails, the words “With a big ugly stick” and a reference to a Bible verse from Colossians about not being fooled by enticing arguments.
Folden is represented by two lawyers, Derek Samuelson and former assistant U.S. Attorney Cliff Stricklin. Folden has no previous criminal history, Samuelson said.
“She looks forward to sharing her perspective. She obviously is a woman of faith,” he said of her upcoming trial.
Meanwhile, Chagoya has offered to create a painting for a nondenominational church in Loveland after its pastor reached out to hear his side of the story regarding the controversial print.
Resurrection Fellowship pastor Jonathan Wiggins plans to speak about the offer with his congregation this weekend, and a spokeswoman said he wouldn’t discuss it before then.