Inside Texas Tech: Public Art

Nov 3, 2017

Eleven years ago, Texas Tech’s public art was named one of the top 10 collections at US colleges and universities by Public Art Review. And as more buildings are added to the 1,839-acre campus in coming years, so too will the number of art pieces. That’s thanks to a 1998 Board of Regents initiative.

The Texas Tech campus has 202 pieces in its Public Art Collection; 89 of those were funded through an initiative started in 1998 by the Board of Regents.

“There are so many things that make the Texas Tech campus special, the homogeneity of the architecture, the art is kind of the icing on the cake,” President Lawrence Schovanec says.

President Lawrence Schovanec loves the public art. He believes that what the campus’ public art adds to the university’s 1,839 acres depends on who you talk to.

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“If you asked people, they’d probably all say, ‘there’s some place I go where I seek solace, or I walk on campus,’” Schovanec says. “I think it adds a lot for the students and faculty but also for the community members who come on campus.”

It’s nearly impossible to walk anywhere on campus without seeing art. Moving to and from classes each day, students get to see sculptures outside most buildings. There are also artworks inside. The most recent sculpture piece, “Run,” is installed at the northwest corner of the new Sports Performance Center.

In 1998, the Texas Tech University System’s board of regents decided to allocate 1 percent of the estimated total cost of each new capital project to commission high quality works of art throughout the system’s four campuses.

Across those campuses, there are 121 pieces using 1 percent funding formula. There currently are 11 pieces pending.

Developing the collection is guided by members of a public art committee, which includes faculty, staff, students, alumni, and university and community leaders.

“I don’t think it’s that common to see this much public art on a campus. I also think it probably surprises people that Texas Tech made this commitment to allocate one percent of building projects to art,” Schovanec says. “It makes a statement about values about this university and also I think we’re connected to the enrichment of community culture.”

Schovanec said Emily Wilkinson, the director of the public art, does a standout job coordinating projects across the system.

Wilkinson says there are 252 pieces in the system’s Public Art Collection. That number includes pieces funded using the 1 percent initiative, donations, and artwork that was on campus before the 1998 program. She says the current value is about $13.5 million, which is based primarily on the cost of purchasing.

Schovanec’s favorite piece is “Run.” When he saw the initial design, he and athletics department officials suggested a woman be depicted.