Upon his early death at age 18, King Tut was laid to rest in a small tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 1323 BC. The tomb was forgotten until Howard Carter and George Herbert made its magnificent discovery in 1922. Since then, only two larger-than-life statues honoring the young king have ever been recovered. One of the giant statues has been restored and remains at the Chicago Oriental Institute. The other, with the natural weathering and deterioration that comes with a millennium of existence, lives at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
And now, a third large monument exists, due to the innovation, partnership, and ingenuity of Philadelphia-based sculptor and NextFab member Miguel Antonio Horn and with the help from our creative team.
In collaboration with the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art and the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, Horn was commissioned to create an outdoor public sculpture to bring attention to the Egyptian Treasures exhibit – an exhibit of a private collection that contains some of the most popular artifacts from Tut’s reign.
The sculpture, Colossus, has settled into its permanent space at the entrance of the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, welcoming guests with its stoic grandeur. But creating the 15-foot behemoth in the less than a 3-month timeframe was both a technological challenge and testament to modernity. While it took decades to create these oversized statues in ancient-times, Horn was able to create Colossus using a new fabrication process he’s developed, and completed the project in less time and with less expenditure than if he used traditional fabrication methods.
First, he and-carved a block of high-density urethane (HDU) to create a very detailed small-scale version of the statue that married the weathered and restored facades of the two existing statues. This design phase was met with a steep learning curve and took about one month to complete, because unlike traditional methods where the fine details are added to the façade after the mold is cast, Horn added them at this phase and relied on digital technology to scale up the details.
Next, the 17-inch statue was sent to NextFab’s 3D printing suite, where Manager Brandon Boulden and John Haggerty helped scan the form, invert it, and transform it into a to-scale styrofoam mold. The mold was assembled and cast with glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) with the help of Kate Kaman and Joel Erland of HumanKind Design, whom Horn calls “masters with concrete casting”. The team filled the mold by hand using rope swings to lift and lower the artists from inside the statue.
After 16 hours of drying and late on Halloween night, the tired team; equipped with crowbars, axes, hammers, and a few enthusiastic friends; chiseled and chopped away at the foam mold, uncovering the statue as if they were archaeologists chipping away limestone.
“It turned out beautifully.” Horn said. “NextFab helped take my idea and make it into reality.”
Miguel Antonio Horn is a sculptor from Philadelphia and member of the artist-run workspace, Traction Company, where he currently maintains his studio and contributes to public art and exhibition programming. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in galleries and museums in addition to public spaces. He focuses on deconstructing the human form through various methods of fabrication often pushing each material and process to unorthodox applications.