South Dakota city erects Barack Obama statue with cheerful addition
For artist James Van Nuys, a simple sculpture of the former president waving wasn't enough, so he decided to add another Obama family favorite
Rapid City, S.D., is known for having dozens of presidential statues, but its latest, a tribute President Obama, comes with an unexpected addition — former first daughter Sasha Obama.
According to local station KOTA on Saturday, droves of residents showed up to bear witness as a life-size bronze statue of Obama was unveiled. Sculptor James Van Nuys, made the sculpture as part of the City of Presidents project, a collection of artist renderings honoring past U.S. presidents throughout the city’s downtown district.
“One of us said, ‘This is boring. This is not going to have the wow factor,'” said Dallerie Davis, the group’s co-founder. “A man waving is not a showstopper.”
This is the fourth statue Van Nuys has created for the project and while he was looking at pictures of Obama for inspiration on a fresh take, he says the one photo that spoke to him the most was of POTUS holding hands with his daughter, Sasha.
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“I did like the photo that I saw of Obama walking on the stage in his first inaugural with his daughter, and I just thought that it was a nice feel-good kind of piece,” said Van Nuys.
The statue depicting Obama walking on a stage at Chicago’s Grant Park when he was first elected, took 500 hours and two years to complete — more than double the time expected. But given the former president’s clear devotion to his daughters and how vocally he’s spoken up about women’s issues during his two terms, including Sasha in the tribute may have felt appropriate.
According to the city’s website, since 2000, the privately funded sculptures have been placed through the streets of downtown Rapid City in a “coherent structure” to “eliminate any sense of favoritism or political gain.” It hasn’t been announced yet exactly where the newest statue will be installed.