Public Art Lights Texas Tech Campus
Artist Aaron Stephan created five aluminum and LED light pole sculptures near the Bayer CropScience building.
June 26, 2015 | Written by Doug Hensley
The Texas Tech University System Public Art Collection welcomed its newest addition Tuesday (June 23) with the installation of a series of five aluminum and LED light pole sculptures located along Ninth Street in front of the Bayer CropScience building on the Texas Tech University campus.
The piece, titled “Variations,” was created by Portland, Maine, artist Aaron Stephan. The sculptures are light pole clusters with unique shapes and designs made from brushed aluminum with low-wattage LED bulbs.
“I began with quite a bit of research into cotton,” Stephan said during his presentation to the public art committee. “What I eventually became interested in was the gradual development of agricultural techniques. What interests me is this idea of variations: that the solution to many of our problems might not be singular. It might be more of an ever-changing evolution with no fixed solution. I think this is an important notion – especially on a college campus – where education is always in flux and developing.”
These sculptures transform standard light fixtures into a dynamic viewing experience by abandoning the traditional vertical form to express a wide range of relationships. Each sculpture has its own character of expression, ranging from sentiments of optimism and exploration while others suggest introspection and calm.
“We are excited to add ‘Variations’ by Aaron Stephan to the Public Art Collection,”
said Emily Wilkinson, public art manager. “Light poles are normal fixtures in our
daily lives, but these sculptures put a new twist on this traditional material, causing
us to view them in a new way.”
Stephan said making simple alterations to the light fixtures allows the work to express organic relationships and interactions.
“It presents a series of organic and graceful forms that stand out against the orderly and repetitive façade of the surrounding buildings,” he said. “They also present a progression of works for those passing either on foot – or by car.”
“Not only does each fixture appear to have its own distinct personality, the shapes seen also resemble plants growing out of the ground,” Wilkinson said. “I can’t think of a more fitting public art installation to place outside of the new Bayer CropScience building.”
Most importantly, Stephan said, the work speaks to the ideas of the variations much like the work at this site, focusing on experimentation and variation in cotton development.
“The organic shapes represent very well the biologic work that will be done in the facilities,” said Dr. Sebastian Schmidt of Bayer upon selection of the piece. “The artist demonstrates exactly the ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking that innovation needs today. He offers completely new views on well-known objects and gives an emotional idea of the highly modern, innovative work that will happen inside the buildings – jointly by Texas Tech and Bayer.”
At night, each fixture emits a subtle glow creating a vibrant play of light throughout the sculpture and landscape. Playing off of traditional relationships between light, knowledge and growth, this art identifies the Bayer CropScience building as an important site for learning, development and research.
“Historically, there is a strong relationship between light and knowledge,” Stephan said. “This work plays off this association, but in a more approachable way.”
About the Texas Tech University System
The Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in the nation, consisting of four component institutions —Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Angelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso—and operating at 12 academic sites and centers. Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the Texas Tech University 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 around the globe.
In 2014, the Texas Tech University System endowment exceeded $1 billion, total research expenditures were approximately $215 million and total enrollment approached 47,000 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 Texas Tech University System continues to prove that anything is possible.