Texas Tech University

Three New Exhibits and New Gallery Open at Texas Tech Museum

Amanda Castro-Crist

February 24, 2017

Grand Canyon

Leonardo's Kitchen is a rotating research and art gallery that will display research from Texas Tech students and faculty in a new and accessible way.

Land Arts
Point Sublime, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

All Photos Courtesy:
Chris Taylor, Land Arts

The Museum of Texas Tech University has something new cooking.

This month, the museum opened a new permanent rotating gallery, Leonardo's Kitchen, which brings together art and research done by Texas Tech students and faculty and allows visitors to interact in a new and accessible way.

In 2016, Texas Tech was recognized as a Tier One research university by the Carnegie Foundation. Gary Morgan, executive director of the museum, wanted a new way to display that research and the creative activities occurring at the university.

"We can only present a tiny part of the research of Texas Tech in Leonardo's Kitchen," Morgan said. "But it will give insight into the range and importance of the research and creative activity that underpins a great research university."

Land Arts
Bonneville Salt Flats
with Matt Coolidge of the Center for Land Use Interpretation,
Wendover, Utah

The gallery will include pictures, video, audio and more in hopes of uniting art and research. The idea originated from the work of Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci, who combined engineering, math, astronomy and science into his art. Inspired by and named after the Renaissance man, the gallery will include different mediums to display research performed at the university.

"We think the name captures the spirit of creativity and research that has real meaning to our lives in a practical way and that makes our lives richer," Morgan said. "Research laboratories and artists' studios are both rather like kitchens – there is something new being tried all the time and you can never be entirely sure what the result will be."

The first exhibit in the gallery includes works from Land Arts of the American West, a program that began at Texas Tech in 2009 and is directed by Chris Taylor, associate professor in the College of Architecture. The exhibit includes art and research from the two-month, 5,000-mile trip that Texas Tech students take during the Land Art program.

Land Arts
Sun Tunnels, near Lucin, Utah

The program was featured in "Through the Repellent Fence: A Land Art Film," which was co-produced by Texas Tech Public Media. It made its world premiere at the Documentary Fortnight series at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and was recently named an official selection for the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin.

The trip included visits to the Great Salt Lake Desert, Chaco Canyon and the Very Large Array. Students view land art monuments to expand their understanding of what the pieces mean and what land art is.

Two other exhibits have also opened at the museum this month. Ferryman's Crossing brings the sensation of the sea to landlocked Lubbock using light reflected off compact discs to evoke the impression of sunlight reflecting off water's surface.

Land Arts
Double Negative,
Mormon Mesa, Nevada

British artist Bruce Munro was inspired by Herman Hesse's 1922 novel, "Siddhartha," which tells the story of the Buddha's journey to enlightenment. During this journey the Buddha is navigated across a river with the help of a ferryman, who carries more meaning than meets the eye, explains Peter Briggs, the Helen DeVitt Jones curator of art.

"The crossing is symbolic of enlightenment as the ferryman provides to both the passenger and reader insights into the interdependence of all things," Briggs said. "The water in the river serves as a metaphor for the continuous flow of time, melding the past, present and future into a single, always-moving whole."

The exhibit carries hidden meanings as well. The rhythm of the lights on the compact discs in the installation is inspired by Morse Code, the communication system created by American artist and inventor, Samuel F. B. Morse. Munro included this system in his installation because the dashes and dots are used by mariners to transmit messages across large bodies of water.

Land Arts
Camp at Twin Buttes, New Mexico

"The light's pulsations spell out words, but as the projected beams reflect off the compact discs, each original message refashions itself into a poetic or abstract idiom," Briggs said.

Ferryman's Crossing is presented in association with another Munro permanent installation, Viva Tree. The installation will be located in the foyer of the new Texas Tech University System Building, which is under construction near Knoxville Avenue and Texas Tech Parkway. Viva Treeis constructed from stainless steel, optical fiber, etched acrylic rods and light and consists of helix-shaped forms suspended from above.

The third installation, Puttin' on the Ritz, will feature elegant evening clothes from the mid-19th century to the end of the 20th century. The exhibit includes the lime green Mollie Parnis gown worn by First Lady Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson to the first state dinner honoring a female leader, Indira Gandhi.

Digital Photographs on Postcards
Vacant Billboards of the Southwest / The Silent Majority
Kaitlin Pomerantz (2016)

The garments highlight how Americans have dressed for special occasions and how the popular silhouette of the era was enhanced by fine fabrics and embellishments for important events.
Admission is free to all exhibits. The Land Arts of the American West exhibit in Leonardo's Kitchen is open through April 23. Ferryman's Crossing and Puttin' on the Ritz are open through June 18.

For more information about museum events, visit its website.

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