“Satanic” sculpture decapitated at University of Houston

The sculpture “Witness” came to the University of Houston after an installation in its original home in Madison Square Park in New York.

A sculpture at the University of Houston, previously protested by some Christians and anti-abortion activists, was beheaded Monday, The New York Times reported.

Campus police have footage of a vandal attacking the artwork, university administrators told artist Shahzia Sikander.

“It was a very violent act of hate, and it should be investigated as a crime,” Sikander said. Times.

The statue, called “Witness,” features an 18-foot-tall woman with thick gold braids resembling ram’s horns and arms and legs that look like roots. The woman is wearing an arched skirt with mosaic detailing and a collar interpreted as an homage to the distinctive lace collars worn by the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The sculpture is a temporary installation in the Public Art of the University of Houston System collection.

Anti-abortion groups on and off campus opposed the artwork, with some claiming it contained “satanic imagery” and pro-abortion rights messages. The university canceled an artist talk introducing the sculpture amid the uproar in February but claimed the decision was unrelated to the backlash.

Sikander told The New York Times that the statue was meant to represent the power of women in the legal system rather than a specific comment on abortion or Supreme Court justices.

University leaders have not confirmed whether the vandalism is connected to activism against the statue.

“We were disappointed to learn that the statue was damaged early Monday morning when Hurricane Beryl hit Houston. The damage is believed to be intentional,” Kevin Quinn, executive director of media relations for the university, said in a statement to Times. “The University of Houston Police Department is currently investigating the matter.”

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