"Comma," by Po Shu Wang, is one of the works of 44 artists that can be seen around
campus as part of the University Public Art Collection. Click to enlarge
Public art at Texas Tech takes many forms: massive granite arches, giant photomurals,
delicate iron work and whimsical cartoon-like sculptures.
“The University Public Art Committee has focused on building an impressive collection
of works from some of the biggest names in the art world,” said Mike Ellicott, vice
chancellor for Facilities Planning and Construction
. “The pieces represent a variety of styles, media and images.”
Despite the quality of the works and the fame of the artists, Ellicott knows that
not everyone will like every piece of art chosen for the collection.
“We get complaints and compliments about almost every piece,” he said. “And that’s
OK. Art is meant to make people think. When you consider that this collection is part
of a university, it’s appropriate that the works make people stop and think and talk
about what it means.”
For Cecilia Carter Browne, the woman who directed the public art program for more
than six years, conversation and debate means the art is a success.
Stimulating "Artistic" Differences
“Public art is like learning a foreign language,” she said. “You don’t always immediately
comprehend what you are viewing or what the artist is trying to convey. But time and
exposure stimulates thinking among the viewers.”
Where better than a university to place art work that triggers discussion and fosters
critical and creative thinking.
“A dynamic public art collection is perfect for a university setting,” Carter Browne
said. “I believe research institutions such as Texas Tech must encourage people to
think outside the proverbial box. That is how novel solutions to research problems
An Impressive Collection
There are more than 350 public art programs in the U.S., 11 in Texas with four at
universities. Texas Tech’s public art program is only a decade old, begun in 1998,
yet it has grown into one of the best in the country with Public Art Review ranking
it as one of the top 10 university programs in the country.
Texas Tech’s public art collection includes works of art in a variety of media--sculpture,
photographs, glass, paintings and ceramics--a collection that impresses even the artists.
“Texas Tech has already passed other universities,” said Jesus Moroles, whose giant
granite sculptures are featured along the Engineering Key and near the Experimental
Sciences Building. “It’s really an example to be shown everywhere. People will take
notice of Lubbock because of the collection.”
“In contrast to some other major universities who only invite the usual suspects,
Texas Tech has commissioned a significant roster of artists of great range to create
a rich program,” said Mike Mandel, who created the mammoth photorealistic mosaics
in Jones AT&T Stadium.
The artists in the collection are well-known and have work displayed in major museums.
Moroles’ work can be seen in the E.F. Hutton/CBS Plaza in New York City, the Museum
of Fine Arts in Houston, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum.
Mandel’s commissions include a wall for the Atlanta Federal Center and for the San
Francisco International Airport. Other artists have work represented in such university
collections as Harvard and museums such as the New York Museum of Modern Art and the
The collection is made up of work from 44 different artists and is placed across the
Texas Tech University campus and on the Health Sciences Center campuses in Lubbock,
El Paso, Amarillo and the Permian Basin.
An Artistic Investment
The process of selecting public art begins as each new facility is approved for construction.
The Office of Facilities Planning and Construction, people who will use the building,
the 18-person University Public Art Committee and the architects all work together
to find the perfect piece of art to fit the mission of the program and to reflect
something of its environment.
Texas Tech allocates one percent of the estimated total cost of each new capital project
that exceeds $500,000 for public art. Another one percent is set aside for landscape
Stroll around Texas Tech. Pat the giant black bulls outside the Animal and Food Sciences
Building. Witness the West Texas sky as framed by Morales’ granite portals. Contemplate
the message in the Tornado of Ideas outside the Student Union Building. Find something
that inspires or challenges you.
See the Collection
Guided tours of Texas Tech’s Public Art Collection
are available. Or take a self-guided walking tour of the collection in an hour or