Texas Tech Branches Out Public Art

Written by Sherrel Jones

Artist Robert Tully sat on a bench nestled underneath lush trees at Texas Tech University while wondering how to connect people with their natural surrounding through art.

Across from him was an empty space waiting to be transformed.

Inspired by a seed-pod skeleton, Tully created three practical benches at Horn Hall dormitory that convey the idea of plant community.

“My work generally connects people to a particular natural setting, so the seed-pod idea seemed like a good direction because it connected with Horn Hall’s landscape and could accommodate a bench inside the shape,” Tully said. “The seed also could make a strong visual shape for art.”

To blend well with Texas Tech’s Spanish Renaissance style, benches were made of Colorado red sandstone. The overarching bronze-colored backrest is welded steel to simulate the dark structure of seed pods.

These benches differ from any other artwork Tully has created. To craft original pieces, he repeats the process of imagination to relate people to a location.

Tully’s artwork evolves from piece to piece. Before creating work, he allows himself to become inspired by a site’s surroundings. The campus architecture and mature trees stimulated ideas for the seed-pod style benches. Once Tully has a vision in mind, he sketches. The Denver-born artist’s style blends conceptual, representational, abstract elements and is specific to a site.

A national call for outdoor seating entries at Texas Tech was the perfect opportunity for Tully to branch out.

“Texas Tech has an active public-art program and has built a reputation by commissioning works from many well-known, respected artists,” Tully said. “They chose me, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

University settings allow art to become a part of culture, he said. Artwork adds to the creation of a stimulating and intellectual atmosphere.

Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at www.media.ttu.edu.

CONTACT: Robert Tully, artist, (720)-771-8502, or robert@tullyartworks.com