A life-size bronze sculpture of former U.S. President Barack Obama and daughter Sasha has been unveiled in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota. The sculpture is a part of the City of Presidents collection, a series of life-size bronze sculptures of all the presidents of the United States, placed along the streets as a part of the Rapid City Historic District Tour.
The statue features President Obama in a suit, holding the hand of his daughter Sasha Obama, both waving. It was inspired by pictures from the presidential election night of 2008 as he made his way onto the podium at Grant Park in Chicago to deliver his victory speech, holding hands with the then 7-year-old Sasha.
The statue was made by South Dakota artist James Van Nuys who has also made sculptures of former US presidents Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, Millard Fillmore and others, and took two years to finish, fifteen months more than its anticipated duration.
“You’ve got millions of photos you can look at for modern presidents. You can get views of every angle of their face, which is helpful if you’re the sculptor, but the likeness has to be better. People know what [President Obama] looks like. You have to make something that looks good from 360 angles, and you want to make a piece that looks nice and is interesting from every view somebody would look at it from. The gesture and expression have to represent the person,” he says.
The new sculpture is expected to draw in a new wave of audiences and is one of the many ways through which the legacy of President Barack Obama is being preserved.
The sculptures are made in honour of all past presidents of the US and are privately funded. After he leaves office, one is expected to be made for President Donald Trump by South Dakota artist James Michael Maher, who has already worked on the statues of former presidents Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and others.