Public Art Brings Campus Traditions to Light

Sculptures are lit with colorful LED lights and cast intricate shadows relating to Texas Tech.

Texas Rising

Texas Tech University System officials and guests celebrated Friday (Aug. 29) the newest and brightest addition to the public art program, Texas Rising.

Located in the north courtyard outside of the new West Village housing complex (1700 Texas Tech Parkway), stainless steel sculptures depict stars emerging from the ground, the largest standing 18-feet tall.

The sculptures are lit from within with colorful LED lights and use cutout symbols that cast intricate shadows and portray symbols and icons relating to Texas Tech and campus life.

Artists Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock of Tucson, Arizona, teamed up to create the pieces and said they were inspired by the school spirit at Texas Tech.

Texas Rising

The sculptures are lit from within with colorful LED lights and use cutout symbols that cast intricate shadows and portray symbols and icons relating to Texas Tech and campus life.

“My first several visits to campus included a game day Friday and Halloween,” Hancock said. “The atmosphere was electric and offered an invaluable education into the character of this university and its students. Texas Rising reflects these impressions of campus life and how they are a dynamic and fundamental aspect of the student experience. The sculpture draws inspiration from the strong Texas Tech lineage and traditions evident throughout campus.”

O’Connell said although the cutouts portray invaluable rituals of students, the meaning of the sculptures goes beyond that.

“We wanted to play on the idea of rising growth,” he said. “As a university develops or a student goes through the college experience, the way the pieces rise out of the ground expresses the idea of stars rising up – slowly and with work. The icons are metaphors for knowledge and allow the pieces to root the university in its physical and metaphorical setting.”

One of the pieces incorporates touch sensors that allow the color of the lights to be changed, encouraging viewers to interact with the sculpture. Both artists said they hope the pieces will be a gathering place for students and a place people will want to visit again and again.

Dyal

Artists Blessing Hancock and Joe O’Connell were inspired by the school spirit at Texas Tech.

“I like to have pieces with multiple layers of meaning,” O’Connell said. “Texas Rising will have a different meaning from 50 feet away than from 10 feet away and will give a different perspective each time you visit.”

Visitors to the sculptures are encouraged to look for “secret symbols,” including a Double-T, victory bell and an old-fashioned farm windmill.

Hancock and O’Connell have created several public artworks for clients in North America, Europe and Asia throughout their careers, including several projects in Texas. The artists were selected from 59 applicants for the $485,000 project as part of the Texas Tech University System Public Art Program.

The TTU System's Public Art Program was initiated by the Board of Regents in 1998 as an investment in the campus environments at each of its institutions. Through the program, public artworks are funded using one percent of the estimated total cost of each new major capital project. Since then, 98 items created by some of today’s leading artists have been added to the TTU System’s campuses.


Public Art

Four Faces

The Texas Tech University System's Public Art Program was initiated by the Board of Regents as an investment in the campus environment and an extension of Texas Tech's educational mission. The Public Art Committee, with the Public Art Manager, commissions original public artworks of the highest quality, be they permanently sited, portable, or architecturally integrated. These works are funded using one percent (1%) of the estimated total cost of each new major capital project.

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