LUBBOCK Texas – Texas Tech University has been recognized as one of the top ten ranked public art programs in the nation.
Fodor’s Travel ranked the university as one of the top 10 outdoor museums in 2020 and the collection has also received top 10 ranking from Public Art Review the leading journal in the field of public art.
Emily Wilkinson, director of public art at Texas Tech, said their public art collection started back in 1998 and since then has grown to house over 100 pieces of art.
“What’s really unique about our collection is that all of the pieces were created for us, specifically where they are,” said Wilkinson,” It’s the only time the artist has made that piece, and they’re not allowed to ever make it again as part of their contract.”
Wilkinson said the art is selected through a special committee and funding comes from 1% of every construction project.
“[One of the most expensive pieces on campus] is one of our newer pieces by LED Pencil Studio,” said Wilkinson, “It’s at our Experimental Sciences Building II and it was close to $800,000 so the [Experimental Sciences] building itself was about $80 million.”
Wilkinson said people from the community are able to explore and find the artwork through an app called “ArTTrek”.
“The beautiful thing about public art is it is out for anybody to touch and interact with, said Wilkinson,” Obviously you want people to be careful around them and not not climb them, but you can definitely touch them, sit on them.”
Shannon Cannings, a local artist and former member of the committee that selects the artwork, said public art is important because it helps people connect.
“When you’re in a space without art and you ware walking from point A to point B, you are perhaps lost in your thoughts but you’re not really connecting,” said Cannings, “Public art allows you, even if you don’t like the piece, [it] gives us a connection to one another.”
Jordan Disney, a Tech student, said she was recently assigned to analyze a piece by the Student Union Building.
“I never really take a look around of what you know is around me, and it really helped me appreciate all the time and effort that was taken for [that] one art piece,” said Disney,” I can’t imagine all the time taken for all the other art pieces on campus.”
Carter Campbell said one of his favorite works of art is ‘Wind River’ by Deborah Butterfield which he said can trick the eye into thinking its made of wood.
“[My professor] was telling us about that horse and she was like, if you walk up to it, just go knock on it and it’s [bronze] and I didn’t believe her,” said Campbell, “So the first thing I did after that class was go to the horse and knock on it and, lo and behold, it’s [bronze], not wood.”