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On the Fourth of July, a statue of the First Lady in Slovenia was torched by protesters amid the Black Lives Matter movement. Several other statues of historical figures in the US were destroyed or vandalised.
The original and newly designed statues were created as part of a collaboration between Kentucky artist Brad Downey and local craftsman Ales ‘Maxi’ Zupevc.
Made of wood, the first statue was cut from the trunk of a linden tree and portrayed the First Lady in a blue dress similar to the one she wore during her husband’s presidential inauguration.
Unveiling the new bronze statue yesterday, Slovenian artist Marko Vivoda said: “We are here today because we put up again a statue of Melania to the place where it was burnt and to commemorate the statue that was set of fire.”
The new statue was placed on the same stump as the old one and is modelled off the previous design.
Back in July, Mr Downey said the statue would be made “as solid as possible out of a durable material which cannot be wantonly destroyed”.
Mr Downey claimed the arson attack was “conceptualised as criticism” over Donald Trump’s politics.
Mr Zupevc – who claims to have been born in the same hospital as Melania – carved the statue with a chainsaw and sanded it with a power tool, according to the Guardian.
He said: “I plugged in my angle grinder. I worked and made mistakes. Finished the hair, the eyes and all.
“Then I called my brother who said, ‘Spitting image of our waitress’. And so it was.”
A plaque next to the new statue dedicates it to the “eternal memory of a monument to Melania which stood at this location”.
The life-size rough figure bears no resemblance to the First Lady.
Melania grew up in Sevnica while Slovenia was still part of the Communist-rule of former Yugoslavia.
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When she started modelling she changed her name to Melania Knauss and settled in New York in 1996.
She met Donald Trump two years after and they married in 2005 and share one child, Barron Trump.
In January, a wooden statue of President Trump, which was designed by a local artist in 2019, was burnt in Slovenia’s city of Moravce.
With his fist clenched and raised high like the Statue of Liberty, the 26-foot high construction showed Mr Trump with his trademark hairstyle, blue suit and white shirt with a red tie.
Unveiling the piece, Tomaz Schlegl, the statues creator said: “Like all populists, the statue has two faces.
“One is humane and nice, the other is that of a vampire.”
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