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Melania Trump's Slovenian hometown unveils statue of first lady to mixed reviews

First lady Melania Trump is back in her hometown of Sevnica, Slovenia — as a life-sized, hand-carved wooden statue rising out of a tree stump. A new statue in the likeness of the first lady has been erected this week. 

The statue was unveiled Friday on the outskirts of the first lady's hometown. It features Mrs. Trump emerging from a living linden tree trunk, wearing the same pale blue coat she wore to Donald Trump's inauguration, waving with her left hand.

Berlin-based American artist Brad Downey commissioned local artisan Ales "Maxi" Zupevc to carve the statue using a chainsaw. It accompanies Downey's exhibition at a gallery in the capital, Ljubljana, exploring Melania's heritage.

"Both Maxi and Melania were born on the same year in the same hospital, but their lives have taken drastically different directions," a description of the documentary on the project reads.  

People gather around a statue of Melania Trump in Sevnica on July 5, 2019. Jure Makovec / AFP/Getty

The artist received positive feedback on Instagram, but local residents had mixed opinions on the finished project. "The sculptor worked a long time on this," one resident told Reuters. "And she does not look as beautiful as she normally is."

BBC News reported that others called it a "disgrace" and said it looked like "Smurfette."

Another resident said they admired the height of the statue. 

"You know what makes her resemble Melania? Look at how high she climbed to the top, just like Melania, who rose to the top of America," the resident told Reuters.

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