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TTU System Celebrates Latest Public Art Installation

The stainless steel and painted aluminum sculpture is located in the Experimental Sciences Building courtyard.  

July 10, 2014 | Written by Jaryn Kilmer

AstrolabeAstrolabe created by sculptor Owen Morrel

The Texas Tech University System recently celebrated the latest installment to its public art program, a stainless steel and painted aluminum sculpture located in the Experimental Sciences Building courtyard on the Texas Tech University campus. 

The piece, titled “Astrolabe,” was created by sculptor Owen Morrel of Peconic, New York, whose work has been acclaimed throughout Europe and the United States, with commissions in Canada and Asia. Morrel expects to complete the installation of this piece by Friday.

“In my early sculptures, I wanted people to discover a new view through the introduction of an anomaly or puzzle into the matrix of expectations,” Morrel said. “Astrolabe carries the theme of those early sculptures; forcing the viewer to discover something new about the act of perception or perhaps to revitalize the act of seeing through the inducement of disorientation.”

Although Morrel drew inspiration for the circular structure from the ancient scientific instrument, the astrolabe, it is not a literal depiction of the tool, leaving room for interpretation by the viewer.

“Unlike the original astrolabe, which was an instrument designed to orient navigators to the stars, in this instance ‘Astrolabe’ asks the viewer to be active and walk around the piece in an effort to discover what is happening and how it works formally and visually, not necessarily to solve a riddle in a linear and rational fashion,” he said.

AstrolabeThe public art piece was made of stainless steel and painted aluminum.  

The sculpture will be surrounded by a mound of drought-tolerant plants and hardscape that ascends in a spiral pattern, providing a pathway to the art piece and creating a metaphorical reference to an image with broad scientific implications.

The $242,000 project will be placed in the circular courtyard west of the Experimental Sciences Building (8th Street and Canton Avenue). Morrel was selected as the commissioned artist from 38 applicants as part of the TTU 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.

About the Texas Tech University System 
The Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in the state of Texas, consisting of four component institutions—Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Angelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso—and operating at 12 academic sites and centers.  Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the TTU System has an annual operating budget of $1.7 billion and approximately 17,000 employees focused on advancing higher education, health care, research and outreach.

In 2013, the TTU System’s endowment passed $1 billion, total research expenditures were approximately $200 million and total enrollment exceeded 44,000 students. Whether it’s contributing billions of dollars annually in economic impact or being the only system in Texas to house an academic institution, law school, and medical school at the same location, the TTU System continues to prove that anything is possible.

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