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Texas Tech Public Art: Headwaters Fountain

headwaters fountain is greyed out with bright blue sky and the text headwaters in the skyline
Graphic by Campus Live Intern Jade Rendon

Headwaters Fountain at Texas Tech University

Headwaters is one of the most unique art pieces on campus. The statue is located on the TTU campus between the English and Philosophy building and the Education building. Named the Headwaters Fountain, the art piece acts as a piece of art and a fountain. 

Like most every other art piece, it was made possible by the Public Art Program at the Texas Tech University System. The Board of Regents created it in 1998 to support the campus atmosphere. The program adds art pieces to campus using one percent of the overall budget at the university.

With over 100 pieces of art throughout Texas Tech campuses, it helped art like the Headwaters Fountain possible. 

Description of Headwaters Fountain

        Lying in the courtyard between the two buildings, the statue depicts two hands with jumbled-up letters of the alphabet in them. Then coming out of the hands is water that falls to a part that holds the water. It is one of the more ornate pieces on campus and is highly favored based on students’ opinions. 

The Headwaters Fountain was carved in Carrara, Italy, and is made out of African black granite and Kashmir gold granite. To sum up, it resembles life’s journey and a revelation of ideas based in English, philosophy, and education said its creator Larry Kirkland. 

According to the University Public Art Collection, “The central fountain features two monumental, classically inspired hands holding letters of the alphabet.” 

The letters remain a fragment of a word, a symbol for a sound. But together, they symbolize the potential for communication and the unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Water pouring over the surface of the fountain reminds the viewer of the variety of sounds that letters create.”

About the Artist

        The artist behind the Headwaters Fountain is Larry Kirkland. With more than 30 years of experience, Kirkland has made pieces of art that now lie across the world. He has also received several prestigious awards for his work. 

Born into a military family, Kirkland was born in 1950 in Port Hueneme, California, and often moved throughout his childhood. After a diverse childhood living across the world, Kirkland pursued a degree in environmental design from Oregon State University in 1972.

Once receiving his degree, he would continue his education at the University of Kansas in a Master of Fine Arts Degree in 1974 and graduate with honors. 

Along with his college and work success, he served on the Public Art Network Council of Americans for the Arts. Kirkland also has work featured at important centers such as the Pennsylvania Station in New York, the Nation Academies of Science in Washington D.C., and the Kansai International Airport, to name a few. 


         Overall, the Headwaters Fountain on Texas Tech University’s Campus is a special piece in the TTU Public Arts Collection. You can find it again between the English & Philosophy and the Education building. So next time you’re on campus, make sure to stop by the Headwaters Fountain and check it out. 

For more Texas Tech Art articles, click here!

For more information on the Headwaters Fountain, click here!

Story by Campus Live Employee Trinity Porter 

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