SEVNICA, Sloevnia – A life-size wooden statue of Melania Trump, emerging from a tree stump, has been erected near the first lady’s Slovenian hometown of Sevnica.
While Sevnica, a town of 5,000, has sold a range of Melania-themed products including honey, chocolate and cake, the US first lady’s latest reincarnation has divided opinion.
US artist Brad Downey commissioned the life-size statue from local chainsaw sculptor Ales Zupevc as part of a documentary.
The sculpture was carved on a plinth of a linden tree in a field on the outskirts of Rozno, a village about five miles from Sevnica.
The work does not attempt to create an exact likeness of the American first lady, but rather hints at her appearance.
She has been carved wearing a pale blue wraparound outfit, mirroring the one she wore to the inauguration of her husband, President Donald Trump, in 2017.
Downey said he was inspired to create the piece due to what he calls the “anti-immigration narrative” coming out of the US and from Donald Trump in particular. He noted that it was a “blatant contradiction” to have a president, who has made halting immigration a cornerstone of his presidency, married to an immigrant whose first language is not English.
He also claimed that the work is the first monument in the world dedicated to this first lady.
Despite Downey’s political message behind the work, the sculpture has received mixed reviews from locals.
“If the monument was meant to be a parody, then the artist has been successful,” one individual told Agence France-Presse. “We in Sevnica can only laugh and, at the same time, hold our heads in our hands over their (the Trumps’) catastrophic reputation.”
Another individual wrote on Instagram: “So sad that you killed a beautiful, healthy, carbon-sequestering tree for selfish and self-serving reasons.”
The project has nevertheless received positive responses from fans. “Brad, I think this is my favorite project of yours,” one individual wrote on Instagram.