José Parlá For Adolescents

silhouette of mural

Amistad América


José Parlá

American, born 1973

Subject: Collage

Activity: Create a word collage

Materials: Magazines, paper, scissors, glue, crayons, or markers

Vocabulary: Collage, symbolism, abstract


José Parlá is inspired by busy cities like New York, Miami, and Austin. He creates large, abstract collages that look like billboards with years and years of advertisements pasted and torn away. Parlá’s work symbolizes the generations of people who lived before him and created the spaces around him. This mural is his largest yet at more than 25 feet tall and 160 feet wide. It is inspired by Austin. 


How does the artist use language in this mural?

When you walk through Austin what kind of letters and markings do you see?

What does it tell you about the neighborhood or the people who live there?

Can you see evidence of different languages and cultures? 


Make a personal statement collage using scraps from magazines. Tear out letters, words, phrases, or symbols and glue them to a sheet of paper. Use markers, crayons, or pencils to incorporate the pieces into one, cohesive composition. 

Look again

Can you see smaller compositions within the larger mural? Why do you think the artist chose to design the mural in this way? 


Collage - A work of art created by layering paper or other objects onto a sheet of paper of canvas

Symbolism - When an artist uses an object to represent someone or something

Abstract - A work of art that doesn’t represent or look like a person, place, or thing