José Parlá

More Information

Project History

Landmarks commissioned José Parlá to create a site-specific, monumental mural for the atrium of Robert B. Rowling Hall. Amistad América is Parlá’s largest mural to date and the first painting acquired by Landmarks.

Funding for the commission was provided by the capital improvement project for Robert B. Rowling Hall at the McCombs School of Business. Numerous individuals lent their support to this project and Landmarks would like to give special thanks to the following:

Leadership

Andrée Bober and Landmarks
Douglas Dempster and the College of Fine Arts
Gregory Fenves and the Office of the President
Jay Hartzell and the McCombs School of Business
Landmarks Advisory Committee
James Shackelford and Capital Planning and Construction
David Rea and the Office of Campus Planning and Facilities Management
Campus Master Planning Committee

Project Team

Nisa Barger, project manager, Landmarks
Andrée Bober, curator and director, Landmarks
Mark Brooks, Capital Planning and Construction
Coburn & Company
DPR Construction
Duggal Visual Solutions
Ennead Architects
Jacobs Engineering
José Parlá, artist
Rey Parlá, Parlá Studios
Vault Fine Art Services
Catherine Williams, Silver Lining Art Conservation
Eldon Wood, Project Management and Construction Services

Special Thanks:

Alison Berg, AT&T Hotel and Conference Center
Susie Brown, McCombs School of Business
Christine Burdell, McCombs School of Business
Sarah Canright, Department of Art and Art History
Holland Chaney, intern, Landmarks
Pat Clubb, former Vice President for University Operations
Deb Duval, event planner
Thomas Gilligan, former Dean of McCombs School of Business
Eric Hirst, McCombs School of Business
Carlo McCormick, curatorial contributor
Chris Mendoza, Parlá Studios
Jeff Melton, McCombs School of Business
Ted Hibler, AT&T Hotel and Conference Center
Emmy Laursen, communications, Landmarks
Jennalie Lyons, development, Landmarks
Marla Martinez, Associate Vice President for Financial and Campus Services
Bob Rawski, former Office of Facilities Planning and Construction
Ed Redondo, Capital Planning and Construction
Tom Rice, AT&T Hotel and Conference Center
Christopher Ruggeri, McCombs School of Business
Stefan Ruiz, music
Gary Susswein and University Communications
Stephanie Taparauskas, development, Landmarks
Michael Uyeda, Capital Planning and Construction
Amanda Wilkes, Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery
Bryce Wolkowitz, Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery
Catherine Zinser, education, Landmarks

Press Highlights

Snapshot: Austin's Large-Scale Public Art
David Brendan Hall, The Austin Chronicle, 02 February 2018
"As an artist, you can never imagine the many different ways people will interpret or interact with your work ... there's freedom that comes from that thought," ponders painter José Parlá, who created the wall-spanning Amistad América (above), part of UT's Landmarks series at the new Robert B. Rowling Hall. "Let's say that 4,000 people a day enter this building, and multiply that by years. The many thoughts that will maybe come out of this mural, or perhaps no thoughts at all – it's astonishing either way, right? Because I can't control it. It's out of my hands."

UT Landmarks Reveals 4,000-Square-Foot Mural "Amistad América"
Elizabeth Hlavinka, Alcalde, 31 January 2018
Facing a 28-by-5-foot blank canvas, José Parlá imagines he is 5 inches tall. Standing in his New York City studio, he is preparing for his most ambitious project to date: a 4,000-square-foot mural six times the model’s size. He adds layer after layer of paint to the surface, using silk-screens, brushes, and his hands, smearing strokes that resemble his palms and fingers. It’s as if he’s leaving pieces of himself on the canvas.

Artist unveils 4,000 square foot mural in McCombs' new Rowling Hall
Nicole Stuessy, Daily Texan, 28 January 2018
“When working on this piece, I wanted it to feel that not only is there a history in the theme of the piece, but that the surface of the work tells you about the depth of what happened,” Parla said. “Like scars in our body, mental scars.”

Art lovers drawn to new giant indoor mural at the University of Texas
Michael Barnes, The Austin American-Statesman, 27 January 2018
“It’s spectacular,” Austin art collector Michael Klein said Friday. “I’ve never seen anything like it. José is one the most creative and articulate artists I’ve ever met.”

UT unveils new 4,000 square-foot mural
Kate Winkle, KXAN, 26 January 2018
A massive, 4,000 square-foot artwork now graces the wall of the University of Texas at Austin’s new Rowling Hall events space. International artist José Parlá painted the mural in the atrium of the building on 300 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. It is 25 feet tall and stretches 160 feet wide and is called “Amistad América.” Parlá says it’s his largest and most “thematically ambitious” project.

Q+A with José Parlá
Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Interest, 26 January 2018
I wanted to make something very approachable and very simple based on the location: the corner of Guadalupe Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. This is really interesting in terms of American history, not just the United States, but America as the New World. Because the mural is situated underground, I wanted it to feel anthropological; I wanted it to have traces and roots of what may have been, and also what the future could bring. I wanted to have a conversation that I think is important to have with art, at any stage in history, but particularly in the United States at this time.

Landmarks' Amistad América
Robert Faires, The Austin Chronicle, 26 January 2018
Walls matter to Parlá. They have since his childhood days, when he would travel to different cities and pay attention to the walls he found there. What he came to see was that their significance has less to do with being barriers, with keeping these people out of a space or those people in, than with serving as tablets, canvases, message boards. Walls are places where we make marks, and over time the marks accumulate and accrete, telling a story of who we have been and who we have become. Walls are repositories of history, of experience. 

The University of Texas Unveils Breathtaking Mural This Week, Free to Attend
Brittany Ballard, The Austinot, 23 January 2018
Parlá refers to his artwork as a palimpsest or diary, and uses paint strokes to record his impressions of places he visits. “Amistad América” is an entry into Parlá’s diary, showing us Austin through his eyes. 

Sneak a peek at UT's massive new 4,000-square-foot mural before it's unveiled
Marcy de Luna, CultureMap Austin, 22 January 2018
Deemed Amistad América, which translates to “Friendship America,” the title of the mural is a reflection on borders, junctures, and divisions, and is Parlá’s largest and most thematically ambitious project to date.

José Parlá Brings 'Amistad América' to UT's Landmarks
Mike Lee, KUT, 19 January 2018
Landmarks, UT's public art program, is set to unveil a monumental new work by painters José Parlá. The mural, title Amistad América, is the largest of his career, measuring 25 x 160 feet, or some 4000 square feet.

Sneak peek: Major new public artwork on UT campus
Cindy Widner, Curbed, 09 January 2018
The 4,000-square-foot mural is inspired by the “natural and cultural landscape of Texas and the Americas,” Parlá wrote in an artist’s statement.

Artist Spotlight: José Parlá
Emma Banks, Tribeza, 01 January 2018
IT’S NO SECRET that UT’s McCombs School of Business is growing — literally, with the new 458,000-square-foot Robert B. Rowling Hall — and now that expansion will come with an artful twist: a custom mural from acclaimed artist José Parlá set to hang above the grand entrance to the new building’s Zlotnik Family Ballroom.

Monumental mural joins University of Texas public art collection
Hannah Phillips, CultureMap Austin, 17 August 2017
“The sheer scale of this undertaking is arresting,” says Landmarks’ founding director, Andrée Bober, in a statement, “and José Parlá is the perfect artist to tackle it ... Beyond the visual delight of his painting, I think people will connect with his evocation of history, memory, and the experience of life and the landscape of Austin.

Big art news from Texas Biennial, Pop Austin and UT Landmarks
Michael Barnes, Austin360, The Austin American-Statesman, 17 August 2017
The 4,000 square-foot-piece by José Parlá will grace Rowling Hall, the new home of the McCombs School of Business graduate program. The unveiling will take place at a big bash in January 2018.

Press Release - 1 August 2017

Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin, commissions major work by José Parlá 

Landmarks' collection expands by commissioning a monumental mural by José Parlá for new McCombs School of Business Building, opening Spring 2018

AUSTIN, Texas — 1 August 2017 — Landmarks, The University of Texas at Austin’s public art program, announces a significant addition today: the commission of a monumental mural by artist José Parlá. The site-specific work will be an integral part of Robert B. Rowling Hall, the new graduate education building for the McCombs School of Business. Rowling Hall was designed by Ennead with Jacobs and is scheduled to open Spring 2018. 

The commission was initiated by Landmarks, one of the most important public art programs to emerge at an American university. On view throughout Austin’s 433-acre main campus, the collection includes commissions and acquisitions of works by Michael Ray Charles, Mark di Suvero, David Ellis, Ann Hamilton, Sol LeWitt, Marc Quinn, Ben Rubin, Nancy Rubins, and James Turrell. In addition, Landmarks presents 28 sculptures on long-term loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Louise Bourgeois, Tony Smith, and Ursula von Rydingsvard, among others. Its collection is broadly accessible and free to all, providing opportunities for students and visitors to engage with great art.  

Parlá’s mural for Rowling Hall is his most ambitious project to date, occupying some 4,000 square feet and transforming a 25 x 160-foot wall into a sweeping visual landscape. Conceived as a narrative that evokes Austin’s natural environment and its urban cityscape, the mural will feature Parlá’s characteristic traces of collage, pulled impasto surfaces, and signature calligraphic marks.  

“The sheer scale of this undertaking is arresting,” said Andrée Bober, founding director of Landmarks, “and José Parlá is the perfect artist to tackle it. He instinctively understands architectural composition and he’s intrepid when it comes to experimenting with new ways to expand his practice. Beyond the visual delight of his painting, I think people will connect with his evocation of history, memory, and the experience of life and the landscape of Austin.”  

Rowling Hall is an architectural anchor of the McCombs School of Business and an extension of the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. Its design by Ennead combines flexible classrooms and gathering spaces that support new ways of teaching and learning. A signature feature of the building will be José Parlá’s mural, which is planned for the grand entrance to the Zlotnik Family Ballroom in Rowling Hall.

“Among our goals is to encourage students to think broadly and creatively, to question everything, and to be comfortable with ambiguity,” said Jay Hartzell, Dean of the McCombs School of Business. “Parlá may have grown up with modest beginnings, but he created value by channeling his observations and experiences in a way that resonates with others widely. The success of his work will provide invaluable inspiration.”

The installation of Parlá’s mural supports Landmarks’ broader strategy to develop an extraordinary public art collection that both enhances the aesthetic character of the campus and supports pedagogy. An ongoing percent-for-art allocation ensures the collection develops in tandem with the rapid expansion of the campus. 

Carlo McCormick, an American culture critic and curator, will serve as curatorial contributor, writing a scholarly essay about Parlá’s mural and leading a Q&A with the artist during the opening festivities in Spring 2018. 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." 

José Parlá is a critically acclaimed, multidisciplinary artist in painting, large-scale murals, photography, video, and sculpture. Layers of paint, gestural drawing, and found ephemera combine to evoke the histories of urban environments. Using the backdrop of world cities, he 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.

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.

Rowling Hall will house the McCombs School of Business Texas M.B.A. and Texas M.S. in Technology Commercialization programs. It will double the space available for Texas Executive Education programs and, in conjunction with AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, increase the convention and conference activities at the university. The 458,000-square-foot building will be on the corner of Guadalupe Street and East MLK Jr. Blvd., providing a new and iconic gateway to campus.

Download the press release.

Press Release - 21 November 2017

AUSTIN, Texas — Landmarks, The University of Texas at Austin’s public art program, will unveil Amistad América, a monumental mural by José Parlá on January 26, 2018. The site-specific commission is the artist’s most ambitious work to date and will be an integral part of Robert B. Rowling Hall, the new graduate education building for the McCombs School of Business. Rowling Hall was designed by Ennead Architects with Jacobs Engineering.

The commission was initiated by Landmarks, one of the most important public art programs to emerge at an American university. On view throughout Austin’s 433-acre main campus, the collection includes commissions and acquisitions of works by Michael Ray Charles, Ann Hamilton, Sol LeWitt, Marc Quinn, Ben Rubin, Nancy Rubins, and James Turrell. In addition, Landmarks presents 28 sculptures on long-term loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Louise Bourgeois, Tony Smith, and Ursula von Rydingsvard, among others. Its collection is broadly accessible and free to all, providing opportunities for students and visitors to engage with great art.  

Amistad América, which translates to “Friendship America,” is inspired by the natural and cultural landscape of Texas and the Americas. The mural occupies a wall measuring approximately 4,000 square feet at the grand entrance to Rowling Hall and is the artist’s largest painting to date. In creating it, Parlá draws on his interest in the human history of migration, trade, and cultural exchanges. He combines his masterful use of collage, impasto, and signature calligraphic marks—the key features of his paintings’ abstract language—to invite open, diplomatic discourse.

“The sheer scale of this undertaking is arresting,” said Andrée Bober, founding director of Landmarks, “and José Parlá is the perfect artist to tackle it. He instinctively understands architectural composition, and he’s intrepid when it comes to experimenting with new ways to expand his practice. Beyond the visual delight of his painting, I think people will connect with his evocation of history, memory, and the experience of life in the landscape of Austin.” 

Amistad means friendship, relating to the Spanish translation of Texas, Tejas, which derives from the Native American Caddoan word táy-sha, meaning friends. Amistad América speaks to the extensive history of human communication through art and exchange throughout the region,” says artist José Parlá. “I began with studies for the mural in my Brooklyn studio, using paint, plaster, and ephemera, but the work has grown while in residence in Austin to incorporate a layering of colors and engraved lines that reflect the city grids and intersections found in the surrounding urban area, speaking to the rich and turbulent history of the Americas.”

On January 26, 2018, Landmarks will celebrate the unveiling of Amistad América with a public talk featuring Parlá in conversation with Carlo McCormick, an American culture critic and curator, followed by a reception. McCormick will contribute a scholarly essay about the mural. 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." 

Rowling Hall is an architectural anchor of the McCombs School of Business and an extension of the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center. Its design by Ennead with Jacobs Engineering combines flexible classrooms and gathering spaces that support new ways of teaching and learning. A signature feature of the building will be José Parlá’s mural, which is sited at the grand entrance to the Zlotnik Family Ballroom in Rowling Hall. 

“Among our goals is to encourage students to think broadly and creatively, to question everything, and to be comfortable with ambiguity,” said Jay Hartzell, dean of the McCombs School of Business. “Parlá may have grown up with modest beginnings, but he created value by channeling his observations and experiences in a way that resonates with others widely. The success of his work will provide invaluable inspiration.”

The installation of Parlá’s mural supports Landmarks’ broader strategy to develop an extraordinary public art collection that both enhances the aesthetic character of the campus and supports pedagogy. An ongoing percent-for-art allocation ensures the collection develops in tandem with the rapid expansion of the campus.

ABOUT JOSÉ PARLÁ

José Parlá is a critically acclaimed, multidisciplinary artist in painting, large-scale murals, photography, video, and sculpture. Layers of paint, gestural drawing, and found ephemera combine to evoke the histories of urban environments. Using the backdrop of world cities, he 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.

ABOUT LANDMARKS

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.

ABOUT ROBERT B. ROWLING HALL

Rowling Hall will house the McCombs School of Business Texas M.B.A. and Texas M.S. in Technology Commercialization programs. It 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 will be on the corner of Guadalupe Street and East MLK Jr. Blvd., providing a new and iconic gateway to campus.

ABOUT ENNEAD ARCHITECTS

Ennead Architects is an internationally-acclaimed studio with offices in New York City and Shanghai. Renowned for its educational, cultural, scientific and civic building designs that authentically express the progressive missions of their institutions, Ennead has been a leader in the design world for decades.  Ennead’s buildings are recognized for their formal and affective power, technical virtuosity, contributions to the cultural life of their communities and the enhancement of their physical contexts. At the core of Ennead’s values lies a deep and fundamental commitment to create architecture that serves humanity.

Download the press release.

Fact Sheet - 21 November 2017

JOSÉ PARLÁ: AMISTAD AMÉRICA

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.”

ABOUT ROBERT B. ROWLING HALL

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.

UNVEILING AND CELEBRATION EVENTS

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." 

ABOUT LANDMARKS

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.

Download the fact sheet.

Contact

Landmarks

The University of Texas at Austin
College of Fine Arts
2305 Trinity St., PAC 3.204
Austin, TX 78712
landmarks@austin.utexas.edu
512.495.4315

Press Office

Emmy Laursen, Communications Coordinator
The University of Texas at Austin
College of Fine Arts
2305 Trinity St., PAC 3.204
Austin, TX 78712
elaursen@austin.utexas.edu
512.232.5904