South Dakota's Rapid City adds Barack Obama statue to its City of Presidents collection
Welcome to the City of Presidents, Barack Obama.
The South Dakota town of Rapid City unveiled the latest addition to its collection of life-size presidential sculptures on Saturday, a statue of the 44th president holding hands with his youngest daughter, Sasha.
The Obama effigy will soon join George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and his other predecessors in the City of Presidents, a series of bronze statues of every past president along the city's streets and sidewalks.
The Obama statue was completed by local artist James Van Nuys, who took about two years to construct it, The Hill reported. He based his work on a photo taken at Obama's first inauguration in 2009.
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The organization that oversees the City of Presidents had first considered multiple designs for the Obama statue, the Rapid City Journal reported.
Among them was an image of the former president sitting in a bus seat once occupied by Rosa Parks, or another image of him standing and waving. But the former proved difficult to design, while the latter was deemed too boring.
"A man waving isn't a show-stopper," Dallerie Davis, co-founder of the City of Presidents, told the newspaper.
With that in mind, the board looked to some of the most popular statues in the series for inspiration. Many featured former presidents – for example, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush – with their pets or children, leading the board to choose the iconic inauguration photo as a template for Obama.
“The idea of a man and his daughter was meaningful to me because my daughter was literally my best friend,” Van Nuys told the Journal. He spent between 400 and 500 hours constructing the statue, he said.
Van Nuys was also the artist behind three other statues in the series: Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson and Franklin Pierce. This one, however, might be his most significant piece of work.
"The other three were from the 1850s and I don't think anyone had a strong emotional attachment to them, so it's nice to do someone people are interested in," Van Nuys told KOTA TV in South Dakota.
The statues, which are all privately funded, have been placed throughout town since 2000 to honor the legacies of previous presidents. The pattern of placement was chosen to "maintain a coherent structure" and "eliminate any sense of favoritism or political gain," the city's website says.
The foundation behind the City of Presidents has already chosen an artist to develop the statue of President Donald Trump, a project to be completed following his presidency.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Barack Obama statue set to join South Dakota's City of Presidents