The Martin Luther King Memorial was opened to the public on Monday to much fanfare, but one fact was largely overlooked amid the hoopla: The 30-foot statue of King was made in China.
The statue forms the centerpiece of a $120 million, four-acre memorial to the slain civil rights leader on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The statue, which will be dedicated Sunday, shows King emerging from a mountain of Chinese granite with his arms crossed.
Lei Yixin, a master sculptor from Changsha, China, was commissioned to carry out the work.
“Critics have openly asked why a black, or at least an American, artist was not chosen and even remarked that Dr. King appears slightly Asian in Mr. Lei’s rendering,” The Telegraph reported.
Lei, who has carved two statues of Mao Tse-tung, carried out almost all the work in Changsha. Then more than 150 granite blocks were shipped to Baltimore and reassembled by a team of 100 workers, including 10 Chinese stone masons brought over for the project.
Ed Dwight, a sculptor in Denver, told The Telegraph that King would be “turning over in his grave” if he knew his statue had been sculpted by an artist living under a communist regime.
Lei also has prepared a bronze bust of Barack Obama that he intends to give the president as a gift.
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