When Faisal Abdu’Allah first strolled through a pathway of stone slabs at Quarra Stone, the Madison company that would help create a sculpture of him, he felt like the materials had souls.

He bypassed the marble and granite, which seemed too pure, instead gravitating toward Indiana limestone. “There were imperfections within the stone that, for me, made it very conversant,” he recalled. “It felt like the limestone was always in flux.”

A year-and-a-half later, the material has been crafted into a 7-foot statue of the University of Wisconsin-Madison art professor as a prelude to his upcoming DARK MATTER exhibition at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, which opens Sept. 17. Titled “Blu³eprint,” the art will be installed in the next few months in front of MMoCA, on the corner of Henry and State streets, pending weather and permits from the city.

The statue — which depicts Abdu’Allah sitting in a barber shop chair — is a true Madison collaboration, said Leah Kolb, curator of exhibitions at MMoCA. In 2018, when conversations began to take place on the removal of Confederate statues, she initially brought the idea to Abdu’Allah, who also serves as the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art at UW-Madison.

Employees at Quarra Stone scanned Abdu’Allah’s body and programmed six-axis robots to cut the raw material. In November, Abdu’Allah then posed beside the initial sculpture so that Martin Foot, a renowned sculptor who lives in Italy, could finish carving the stone by hand.