Texas Tech University

Public Art Program Debuts 'Oblique Intersection'

Amanda Castro-Crist

October 4, 2019

(VIDEO) The stainless steel 3D sculpture by Lead Pencil Studio measures 37 feet by 26 feet by 4 feet and is located outside the new Experimental Sciences Building II.

For more than 20 years, the Texas Tech University System's Public Art Program has beautified and enriched the system's multiple campuses with a variety of art pieces, including murals, paintings, mosaics, sculptures and mixed-media installations.

The latest installation is in conjunction with the new Experimental Sciences Building II on the Texas Tech University campus in Lubbock. "Oblique Intersection," by Lead Pencil Studio, is a 37-feet-by-26-feet-by-4-feet, stainless steel, 3D drawing in space inspired by the architecture of the Texas Tech campus. Public Art director Emily Wilkinson said the art and architecture collaborative was chosen from more than 160 artists who applied for the project.

"The committee selected Lead Pencil Studio because of their innovative idea to create this 'line drawing in space' of the building from small, steel rods," Wilkinson said. "The finished sculpture is in a unique style that many people haven't seen, and this innovation and distinctiveness is especially fitting in front of Experimental Sciences Building II."

More than 1 million welds were used in the constructing of the sculpture, Wilkinson said. Architectural fragments of the Spanish Renaissance-style architecture of the campus are integrated into the piece, which weighs between 5,000 and 7,000 pounds.

"This piece is one of the largest in our collection, both in size and budget," she added. "What is really interesting about the construction of this piece is that it changes in appearance depending on where you are viewing it. And, despite its size, it almost disappears from certain angles. The shadows created by the sun and lighting at night are also an important part of the viewing experience, making it a sculpture that really needs to be experienced in person."

Oblique Intersection
The newest art installation piece, "Oblique Intersection."

The sculpture took artists Daniel Mihalyo and Annie Han about 18 months to create, from start to finish, and 10 days to construct on campus earlier this semester.

"We were thrilled to have been invited to be part of this project and the campus as a whole has a very strong art collection, so we were just eager to be part of that dialogue," Mihalyo said. "We met as students of architecture, and this project gave us the rare opportunity to revisit the architectural language of our studies from the campus-wide dialogue of architecture. We invented this form with deleted voids specifically to offer surprise perspectives based on viewer movement across the open space."

Each steel part of the piece has a permanent, black oxide coating and has been welded in at a 20- to 90-degree angle, giving the entire project an oblique skew. Within the form are circular arches, classically shaped windows, a staircase element and cornice pieces, all borrowed from the campus architecture.

"We spent probably two months making form work for the piece that's necessary to make the entire piece in negative shape out of solid material that's concrete-lined," he added. "Then we welded on the inside of that form. It's intended to fit into the stylistic nature of the architecture, but to also sort of be a play on it and be something that might create a dialogue on where these building parts came from, how they ended up here in Texas from Spain and what interpretations were made in that Cross-Atlantic journey of styles."

The construction of the sculpture allows for the use of green space as the plaza, and the sculptural form is rendered on the ground through the sun's shadows, influencing human movement in the space throughout the seasons.

"We wanted to make a piece that worked as a sun dial in a way, so not only could you kind of see the sculpture, but when you're immediately below and around it, it would create a drawing on the ground," Han said. "Sometimes, you look from some points of view and it doesn't really look like anything, or it looks like a cloud. As you walk around the piece, all of a sudden, the windows appear and disappear, the arch appears and disappears, and the stairs appear and disappear, all based on your perspective because of the oblique angle."

Mihalyo said they hope people will spend time dwelling around the piece and take the chance to experience it at different times throughout the year.

"The sun angle and the atmosphere around it changes its appearance a lot," he said. "Sometimes it will appear completely transparent. You might not even notice that there was a sculpture in this field. But other times, it's completely opaque and will seem like a very clearly described piece of architecture."

He said he also hopes people will experience the piece at different times of the day – including at night, when the lights from the plaza shine on the sculpture.

"It's a very narrow light that runs along both faces and shines directly up," Mihalyo said. "It's a raking, fairly harsh light. So what you'll see at night is a very clear description of the openings, and it will look sort of shimmery and silvery. Even though it's a black material, at night, this bright light catches all the reflection on the polished stainless steel, so it's going to be very dramatic. It will beckon because it's going to be so bright."