A bronze statue of the United States’ First Lady Melania Trump was unveiled near her hometown in Slovenia on Tuesday to replace the original wooden version of the sculpture that was burned down by a group of arsonists in July, CNN reported.
The new sculpture, by US artist Brad Downey, is a near-exact replica of the original and has been erected near Sevnica, a small town located in central Slovenia where Melania grew up. The statue features a plaque, dedicating it to “the eternal memory of a monument to Melania which stood at this location”, BBC reported.
The original wooden statue was torched by a group of unidentified arsonists on July 4th. “I didn’t think it was a good ending for the artwork, I didn’t think it was a good ending for the community,” Downey told CNN.
The original was carved out of a single tree trunk by local chainsaw artisan Ales Zupevc, who is better known as Maxi. The statue depicted Melania in a powder blue coat, similar to the one she wore for her husband US President Donald Trump’s inauguration. However, it bears no obvious resemblance to Melania.
According to Downey, the new bronze version of the sculpture was inspired by propaganda monuments, like the ones installed by Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin after the 1917 Revolution. He told CNN that Melania’s statue was a “monument that critiqued monumentalism”.
Downey added that since locals in the area had been extremely supportive of his work, he had decided to erect the statue as a “donation” to them.
Ever since Trump was elected President of the US, tourists have flocked to Sevnica to see where the first lady grew up. While Melania was born in Novo Mesto in 1970, she moved to Sevnica as a child, when Slovenia was still part of Communist-ruled former Yugoslavia.