Last month, Voodoo teamed up with Mic, the leading digital news company for society’s Change Makers, to bring to life a 3D printed statue of Colin Kaepernick kneeling as part of the company’s Black Monuments Project. The four-foot tall statue consists of 17 individual parts 3D printed in our Brooklyn factory, and was displayed at the Mic office in 1 World Trade Center on February 28th, the last day of Black History Month.
Imagining a Better Future
To celebrate Black History Month, digital media outlet Mic introduced its powerful Black Monuments Project. The initiative reimagines the world we live in by honoring black historical heroes in hopes of confronting our country’s legacy and turning the impact of monuments in all communities into one that is positive.
Mic envisions a country that celebrates its previously unsung heroes and makes space for positive change to come. For the Black Monuments Project, the Mic editorial staff chose 54 black heroes—one from each U.S. state and territory—who deserve to have monuments erected in their honor. The group includes a mix of both widely known figures and those who are less familiar, representing fields ranging from politics to sports, from music to science, who have made a significant impact on American history.
A Stance Immortalized
Colin Kaepernick represents the state of Wisconsin in the Black Monuments Project. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback from Milwaukee has been a household name since 2016, when he refused to stand during the National Anthem in protest of racial injustice in America. His actions sparked a national conversation—like the launch of the thought provoking #TakeAKnee movement—and criticism, including suggestions that NFL players who protest during the National Anthem are unpatriotic and should be fired.
With help from designers at Mixer, the team at Mic turned Kaepernick and his iconic stance into an immersive AR experience that truly embodied the Black Monuments Project. By scanning a unique code, Snapchat users could experience a world where black monuments occupy physical space by placing a virtual monument in any location of their choosing. In addition to the Kaepernick AR monument, Mic and Mixer also created Snapchat-able monuments of three other honorees: Anita Hill, Michelle Obama, and Madam C.J. Walker.
As a 3D model, the AR version of Kaepernick proved to be the perfect starting point when Mic began to explore the possibility of creating a real-life miniature monument. After researching their options, Mic reached out to us at Voodoo, and together we created a four-foot tall 3D printed statue of Kaepernick using Mixer’s AR version as a base model. The kneeling statue was ultimately displayed next to speakers at a panel Mic held on February 28th to discuss the history of monuments in the United States and their ongoing impact on communities.
3D Printing A Piece of History
So, how do you 3D print a four-foot tall monument? Starting with a 3D model constructed from a scan of Kaepernick, our design team evaluated the geometry of his pose to determine the best way to optimize such a large and complex form for 3D printing. The answer was to digitally divide the 3D model into 17 unique pieces.
The resulting 17 unique pieces were printed in parallel across just 400 hours using large-format printers, and assembled like a life-size puzzle ahead of the event. Thanks to the robust peg system incorporated into the design, the statue’s structural integrity was as strong as Kaepernick’s monumental conviction.
We’re not usually about politics here at Voodoo, but we’re honored to have had the chance to work with Mic and support the Black Monuments Project. 3D printing allowed Mic to bring one of their 54 imagined monuments to life, even if only temporarily, in a fast and efficient way. We hope the statue of Colin Kaepernick sparked some meaningful discussions not only about what 3D printing is able to do, but also about the power of representation and the possibility of celebrating black heroes in future monuments.