Artist Okuda San Miguel spent a week late last year painting and converting an abandoned church in Spain into an indoor skateboarding park. Elchino Pomares

Skateboarding church creator rejects criticism

By  Rosie Scammell, Religious News Service
  • April 5, 2016

ROME – An artist who converted an abandoned church in Spain into an indoor skateboarding park is defending the project against critics who consider it an act of desecration.

The Santa Barbara church in the northern Spanish town of Llanera, once a place of worship for employees of an explosives factory, had been abandoned since the closure of the factory after the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War.

The artist Okuda San Miguel spent a week late last year painting the building with bright colors, featuring faces and a skull on the high ceiling.

While the skateboarding church garnered international attention and praise, the Madrid-based daily El Pais said it has also generated controversy. One commenter on the newspaper’s Facebook page called the project “utterly disrespectful”; another suggested the artist try doing the same to a mosque.

In an exchange of emails with RNS, San Miguel insisted that “few people think that way,” and he added that townspeople welcomed the transformation.

“During the public presentation of the finished paintings we met some old men that had worked in the church in the past, and they liked … the new life brought to the church,” he wrote.

The artist, who was born Oscar San Miguel, talked about his inspiration.

“I travel a lot and my art is closer to the Indian Gods … spiritualism which involves animals,” he said. “I think art is like a universal religion, without borders.”

Since completing the project, San Miguel has painted the outside of a church in Youssoufia, Morocco.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
Type the text presented in the image below

Support The Catholic Register

Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.