Fact Sheet - 21 November 2017


José Parlá is a critically-acclaimed, multidisciplinary artist in painting, large-scale murals, photography, video, and sculpture. He combines found ephemera with layers of paint and gestural drawing to evoke the histories of urban environments. Using the backdrop of world cities, Parlá creates abstractions that can appear to be photorealist fragments of what he sees in the chaos and rush of the metropolis.

Born in Miami in 1973, Parlá studied at Miami Dade Community College, New World School of the Arts, and Savannah College of Art & Design. His work has been exhibited internationally and includes major commissions for the Brooklyn Academy of Music and The One World Trade Center in New York. Public institutions that have collected his work include The British Museum; The Albright-Knox Art Gallery; POLA Museum of Art in Hakone, Japan; and The National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba. He is represented by Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York

Parlá’s commission for Landmarks, Amistad América, is his most ambitious project to date, transforming a 25 x 160-foot wall in the new Rowling B. Hall into a sweeping 4,000 square foot site-specific visual landscape. The mural was conceived as a narrative that evokes Austin’s natural environment and its urban cityscape, and it features Parlá’s characteristic traces of collage, pulled impasto surfaces, and signature calligraphic marks. In imagining Amistad América, Parlá was inspired by the history and natural landscape of Texas, whose name in Spanish, Tejas, derives from the Native American Caddoan word for “friends.”


Robert B. Rowling Hall is the new graduate education building for the McCombs School of Business, scheduled to open in January 2018. The facility is an extension of the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center and will house the McCombs School of Business Texas M.B.A. and Texas M.S. in Technology Commercialization programs. Rowling Hall defines a powerful new identity for the McCombs School. Its design by Ennead Architects with Jacobs Engineering embodies invention, innovation and human interaction and combines flexible classrooms and gathering spaces that support new ways of teaching and learning. Like other Ennead projects, Rowling Hall’s formal, affective power and technical virtuosity shine through in its design that serves the community while it inspires and breathes new cultural life into the campus and beyond. 

Rowling Hall will double the space available for Texas Executive Education programs and, in conjunction with AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, increase the convention and conference activities at the university. The 458,000-square-foot building is on the corner of Guadalupe Street and East MLK Jr. Blvd, providing a new and iconic gateway to campus.

A signature feature of the building is José Parlá’s mural, which is being created for the grand entrance to the Zlotnik Family Ballroom in Rowling Hall.


A public unveiling for Parlá’s large-scale mural at Robert B. Rowling Hall is planned for January 26, 2018. The festive event is free to all and will be one of the first events at Rowling Hall’s Zlotnik Family Ballroom. Co-hosted by Landmarks and the McCombs School of Business, the evening will feature Q&A with Parlá led by American cultural critic and curator Carlo McCormick, followed by a reception with complementary drinks and bites. Reflecting on Parlá’s work, McCormick has observed, “Caught very much in the moment, Parlá's time is always transitory, a measure of echoes rather than certainties, a resonance of history where absence constitutes a more formidable presence than anything so shiny and new as the present." 


Established in 2008, Landmarks is the award-winning public art program of The University of Texas at Austin. Founding director Andrée Bober leads the development of the collection and oversees a vibrant range of programs that support scholarship and learning. Its collection of 40 modern and contemporary works includes commissions from some of the most admired and promising artists of our time. By bringing great art to The University of Texas at Austin, Landmarks enriches the lives of students and visitors, engaging thousands of people every day. For more information, visit www.landmarks.utexas.edu.

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