The word “lumpy” comes to mind at the sight of a new statue of Melania Trump unveiled in her hometown in Slovenia. Carved out of a tree using a chainsaw, the statue may not have been intended as a less than flattering depiction of this local girl turned famous woman, but many comments in the news and on social media show the widespread impression that the statue is seen as laughably unflattering. Locals have already been capitalizing on the fame (or infamy depending on your perspective) of Melania Trump by creating an array of Melania Trump-themed products, including Melania cake, slippers, and honey.
The statue, which is on the outskirts of the town of Sevnica, was carved out of a tree using a chainsaw by local artisan Ales Zupevc, but was designed by American conceptual artist Brad Downey, whose plan Zupevc followed. The statue depicts the First Lady in the pale blue suit and gloves she wore at her husband’s inauguration, or a conceptual version thereof, waving. According to The Guardian:
After Melania cake, Melania honey and even Melania slippers, the Slovenian home town of the US first lady will now boast a statue of its most famous daughter – albeit one that has faced decidedly mixed reviews. …The sculpture was carved into a tree using a chainsaw and depicts Melania Trump in a blue dress and raising her left hand in a waving gesture, emulating a pose she struck at her husband’s 2017 inauguration. Its somewhat naive style has led some critics on social media to brand it a “scarecrow”. “I can understand why people might think that this falls short as a description of her physical appearance,” Downey told AFP, but insisted that he found the end result “absolutely beautiful”. …However, not everyone has been moved to wax lyrical about the artwork. Nika, a local 24-year-old architecture student, told AFP: “If the monument was meant to be a parody, then the artist has been successful. “We in Sevnica can only laugh and, at the same time, hold our heads in our hands over their [the Trumps’] catastrophic reputation,” she added.
From that last comment, it would appear that even some of those from Melania Trump’s hometown are embarrassed by the Trumps’ actions, rather than being proud that Melania Trump grew up in Sevnica (she was born in Novo Mesto, but grew up in Sevnica). The statue got lampooned on social media. For example this person took note of statue-creator Downey’s quote from The Guardian that, “I can understand why people might think that this falls short as a description of her physical appearance,” adding “You think?”. The post also shows a picture of the rather lumpy, particulary lumpy-legged, statue.
Others took a different, if sarcastic stance, that this was in some ways an apt depiction of Melania Trump, such as this person, who wrote, “It’s wooden just like she is perfect statue.”
Another expanded on the “Scarecrow” commentary about the statue, writing, “Scarecrow #FLOTUS unveiled in Slovenia!! Artist must be a fan of the Wizard of Oz. …’If I only had a brain’…How long until AG Barr threatens to sue?”
This statue appears physically unflattering, but it also appears from his statements that it wasn’t the intent of its creator, Brad Downey, to depict an unflattering image. What message the carving was actually meant to convey is not clear. For a woman largely known only for her physical appearance and marriage to a controversial figure, a statue without that physical appearance is somehow empty of meaning – perhaps that in itself could be seen as a comment, that the empty feeling engendered by viewing the statue mirrors the empty feeling Melania Trump herself engenders in many people. Of course that sentiment is in the eyes of the beholder, rather than the intent of Downey – probably.