Pictured left to right: Joshua Talbott, ATC ’04, BS ’07, MTec ’12, team leader from Kent State University’s Division of Information Technology, and Antonio D’Angona, BS ’15, assoc. systems administrator at the College of Arts and Sciences, inspect the 3D-printed replica of the Liberty of Poetry statue that Kent State created for the Sisters in Liberty: From Florence, Italy, to New York, New York exhibition. Photo by Rami Daud
Sisters in Liberty
It took a large, multidisciplinary team from Kent State University to help unite two “sisters,” located on separate continents and more than 4,300 miles apart.
The story begins in June 2018, when James Blank, PhD, dean of Kent State’s College of Arts and Sciences, J.R. Campbell, executive director of the Design Innovation Initiative, and Fabrizio Ricciardelli, PhD, director of the Kent State Florence Program, met in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy, with the curatorial leadership of the Opera di Santa Croce—a nonprofit organization responsible for managing, preserving and increasing the value of the church and complex of Santa Croce.
The basilica is the burial site of some of Italy’s most prominent figures, including Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli. Among its many works of art is sculptor Pio Fedi’s The Liberty of Poetry, which was created for the tomb of Giovanni Battista Niccolini, a poet and playwright of the Italian unification movement or Risorgimento.
Some believe the statue, inaugurated in 1877, may have been the inspiration for the design of Frédéric Bartholdi’s The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, which was dedicated in New York Harbor in 1886 and has welcomed immigrants and visitors to America ever since.
Through this meeting in Florence, an idea was born for a collaborative exhibition featuring the two “sister” statues, each an embodiment of liberty, to explore the cultural ties between Italy and the United States and reflect on the quest for liberty and personal freedoms. Sisters in Liberty: From Florence, Italy, to New York, New York opened Oct. 17, 2019 at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, the first time the Opera di Santa Croce created an exhibition outside of Italy.
To bring the Florence statue “to” New York, Kent State’s Design Innovation Initiative sent two experts in 3D imaging—Robert Clements, PhD, associate professor of biological sciences, and Joshua Talbott, ATC ’04, BS’07, MTec ’12, team leader in information technology—to Florence to 3D scan the statue using technology from Exact Metrology. They returned to Kent State to process 30 to 40 gigabytes of data and create a blueprint for a 3D printer.
Freshmade 3D, in Youngstown, Ohio, 3D printed an 80-percent scale, nine-foot tall replica in three sections so it could be transported easily to New York. The rays on the top of the head were cast in a sand mold 3D printed by Humtown Products in Leetonia, Ohio.
The New York exhibition also includes a dual-language “Listening to Liberty” Listening Wall, an interactive digital tool developed by a team led by David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, and designed by Each + Every, a multidisciplinary design studio in Kent, Ohio.
It allows visitors to listen to oral histories and view historical documents and multimedia stories centered on the themes of the exhibition—and to create and share their own poetic reflections.
The replica will remain in New York through the exhibitions’ close on September 10, 2020, and will find a permanent home at Kent State’s Design Innovation Hub.
—Stephanie Langguth, BS ’03, MPA ’19
For the exhibition, Kent State’s Design Innovation Initiative leveraged skills and expertise from the College of Arts and Sciences, Wick Poetry Center, College of the Arts, College of Aeronautics and Engineering and College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Kent State project supporters included The Burbick Foundation, the Wick family and The Woodward Foundation.