How to experience art, culture in a COVID-19 safe way on campus

Zoe Tzanis

Editor's Note: This story first appeared in The Daily Texan's February 9 print edition.

COVID-19 regulations have largely kept students out of museums and art installations, leaving some without a culture fix. But UT’s campus is scattered with works of art by professors, artists and even a sculpture commissioned by students.

The Daily Texan has compiled a list of spots on campus that provide a COVID-safe way of experiencing the arts. 

Littlefield Fountain 

Located at West 21st St. and University Avenue, the fountain features a winged female figure on the bronze bow of a ship, mermen and horses rising from the water. An iconic part of UT, taking a swim in Littlefield Fountain is considered a rite of passage for some UT students although UT has said it is not advised. 

The Family Group

At the McCombs College of Business Administration building, along the south entrance, is an enormous sculpture titled The Family Group. Created by late UT art professor Charles Umlauf, the piece depicts a father, mother and child — the most basic economic unit of society. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sculpture

A step off Speedway at the East Mall, between the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center and the Jackson Geological Sciences Building stands a tall bronze statue of Martin Luther King Jr. The piece stands as a symbol for education and empowerment. Students led the effort to bring the sculpture to campus in 1999, bringing the idea to the former UT President William Cunningham and raising the majority of the funds themselves. 

Cesar Chavez Statue 

Across campus on the West Mall is another student-funded sculpture of Cesar Chavez, an American civil rights activist and labor leader. The piece was the first statue of a Latino on UT’s campus. The project to bring a statue of Chavez to campus was created and funded by students.

The West

Farther west on Speedway is a sculpture of two gigantic buoys covered in copper pennies. The artist, Donald Lipski, created the piece to start conversations due to its controversial portrayal.

For journalism freshman Ivy Fowler, “The West” is a UT landmark that never fails to make her smile. 

“Personally, I just find it hilarious,” Fowler said. “Whenever I see it, I always have a good grasp on where I am on campus.”

Monochrome for Austin

The infamous canoe sculpture, Monochrome for Austin, stands at the west end of Speedway in front of the Norman Hackerman Building. Designed by artist Nancy Rubins, the sculpture came to UT in 2015. Monochrome for Austin is an enormous aluminum sculpture made from 70 recycled canoes. 

Women’s and gender studies freshman Mia Hay said this is her favorite sculpture on campus. 

“I love the way they are held up,” Hay said. “They branch out and sort of hang in an arch over Speedway. They remind me of the flow of ideas running one into another, supported by the connections between them.”

Barbara Jordan Sculpture

In front of the Texas Union is a monument dedicated to Barbara Jordan, the first Black woman from Texas to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. It was the very first statue of a female public figure on campus.

Diana of the Chase

At the center of the Honors Quad is a sculpture of the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana, shooting an arrow toward the sky. 

Diana represents more than protection and inspiration for psychology freshman Hannah Carney. 

“It’s a symbol of the Quad,” Carney said. “I love it because it's something that united my closest friends. We would pick up fruit, bananas, apples, oranges and give them to her as offerings.”

Etter-Harbin Alumni Center

Lastly, check out the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center on San Jacinto Boulevard. This secluded spot is home to many sculptures: a mother and child, a sculpture titled The Graduate, a sculpture titled The Student, a life-size longhorn and more. Soak up some sun and enjoy this quiet spot surrounded by beautiful art.