Texas Tech: Home to one of the best art collections in the nation

Published: May. 4, 2023 at 8:36 PM CDT|Updated: May. 4, 2023 at 8:37 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Texas Tech system’s public art collection is considered one of the biggest and best in the nation, and now there’s a new way to learn about it.

The university’s website gives virtual visitors an opportunity to see the more than 200 works in the system.

The website logs every piece of art on every campus in the Texas Tech system, complete with its history, meaning, and an interview with its creator.

Executive Director of the Texas Tech system’s Public Art Department, Emily Wilkinson, says this is just the first step, before visitors head out to campus and interact with the pieces in person.

“It’s a really beautiful way to create this immersive space for students,” Wilkinson said. “They have this campus that they can visit artwork that’s beautiful, but also gives them something to think about. "

The university created the “percent for art rule” in 1998, which mandated 1% of the cost of every major capital project go towards commissioning new works.

“This is actually our 25th year of that rule being established,” Wilkinson said.

Over those two decades, the university has commissioned more than 260 pieces spread across all its campuses.

“It’s really made a dramatic difference,” Wilkinson said.

This collection is not just popular among students and other Lubbock residents, it’s held in high regard by artists as well.

“I think it really helps us to get some really amazing artists interested in our projects,” Wilkinson said. “Just because they are very excited about the reputation that our collection has.”

Bruce Munro is one of the artists featured at Texas Tech’s Lubbock campus.

Bruce Munro - Viva Tree (2017)
Bruce Munro - Viva Tree (2017)(kcbd)

He created a sculpture of acrylic and steel that’s suspended from the ceiling of the system administration building. Notches in every prism make up the words vision and honor in Morse code.

Bruce Munro - "Viva Tree" (2017)
Bruce Munro - "Viva Tree" (2017)(kcbd)

You’ll never see it anywhere other than on Texas Tech’s Lubbock campus.

Every piece of art commissioned is made specifically for the university and cannot be duplicated.

Koryn Rolstad, another artist featured in the collection, says being chosen by the university was an emotional experience.

“I got the phone call and I burst into tears,” Rolstad said. “It truly is the academy awards for public artists.”

Koryn Rolstad - "Illuminated Arboreal Data Codes" (2016)
Koryn Rolstad - "Illuminated Arboreal Data Codes" (2016)(kcbd)

Rolstad’s piece is meant to be a symbol of communication and commerce throughout history.

But seeing everything in this collection can be a daunting task.

Wilkinson says the University is offering some help to any enthusiasts who want to get a better look.

“People can contact us through our website and set up a tour if they’re interested,” Wilkinson said.

The University will be installing a new piece this September, pushing the value of the collection to more than $20 million.