July 9, 2020
Statue Of Melania Trump Set On Fire In Slovenia

Over the weekend, a statue depicting the likeness of first lady Melania Trump was set on fire. The wooden sculpture commissioned by Brad Downey sits near her hometown in Slovenia, as Reuters reports.

Just months prior, a wooden statue of U.S. President Donald was set ablaze in Slovenia, as well.

Downey, who is an American artist based in Berlin, carved the statue in order to create a conversation about politics in the U.S. In particular, he wanted to focus on the idea that Trump was elected to lead the country based, in part, on his anti-immigration stance. At the same time, he is married to an immigrant.

Downey had the disfigured statue taken down after hearing the news.

"I want to know why they did it," he said.

The artist says that he filed a police report and hopes that if the vandals are found, he will have the opportunity to interview them for an art exhibition that he plans to launch in September in Slovenia.

"The investigation in this case has not been completed yet so we cannot reveal details due to the interest of further procedures," investigators said.

The statue garnered criticism when it was first erected because the rough-hewn art created using a chainsaw scarcely resembled the first lady. The face of the carving is vaguely rendered, but the powder blue dress and gloves adorning the sculpture were recognizable as the ensemble that Melania wore during her husband's inauguration.

The 9-foot-tall statue was carved out of the trunk of a live linden tree by Ales Zupevc near the banks of a river. One arm is raised as if the figure is waving at Melania's home town of Sevnica, which is several miles away.

But Downey defended the statue, as the New York Times reported at the time, saying that it was a serious work of art.

"Since the current political situation popped up, I felt compelled to inject a bit of my voice into this narrative," he said. "The idea to commission the first monument to Melania has some cheekiness to it, but I wanted to do a serious investigation there."

First Lady Melania Trump and U.S. President Donald Trump prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship game between the Clemson Tigers and the LSU Tigers at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Getty Images | Chris Graythen

The news comes as the president has taken a stance against anyone who seeks to remove, vandalize, or destroy statues and monuments throughout the U.S. Demonstrators have toppled numerous statues honoring Confederate war leaders and historical figures who had owned slaves as protests have spread across the country against police violence and systemic racism.