NEW YORK — The chocolate Jesus sculpture that caused an uproar last Easter season is returning to New York City.
A recast of "My Sweet Jesus," a life-sized chocolate sculpture of a nude Jesus, will appear later this week alongside eight chocolate sculptures of Catholic saints in the "Chocolate Saints…Sweet Jesus" exhibition at the Proposition Gallery in Chelsea.
While the Catholic League said it still disapproves of the Jesus sculpture, the watchdog group revealed that it will not spearhead a protest against the upcoming exhibit as it had done earlier this year.
"Since 'My Sweet Jesus' isn't going to be displayed on the ground floor of an established hotel in midtown, and since Halloween is more appropriate for Cavallaro's crafts than Easter, our central objections are not applicable this time around," stated Catholic League on its website.
Back in March, the group criticized the exhibit's timing and location – a street-level window of the Roger Smith Lab Gallery in Midtown Manhattan – and threatened to launch a boycott against the affiliated Roger Smith Hotel if the exhibit was not removed.
Bill Donohue, head of the watchdog Catholic League, said it was "one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever."
A flood of angry calls to the hotel and gallery, including a few death threats against the artist, Cosimo Cavallaro, forced the gallery to cancel the display.
This time around, Cavallaro said he hopes that the chocolate medium used to portray Christ calls people's attention to the fragility of life and the lived experience of Christ
"Depictions of Jesus in plastic or wood are what I find offensive," he told the AM New York daily newspaper. "With my work, you don't want it to melt, so you have to be more aware of the time you have with it. It's more alive."
The artist also said that most of the mail he received had expressed support for his work, according to the Associated Press.
Cavallaro's religious sculptures – which does not include the original sculpture of Jesus – will be on view from Oct. 27 to Nov. 24, timed to coincide with All Saints Day on Nov. 1.
The original Jesus sculpture was tossed by the artist after being destroyed by mice.