JOSE PARLA: Landmarks commissions major work by the artist

26 January 2018


at The University of Texas at Austin
College of Fine Arts
2305 Trinity St., PAC 3.204
Austin, TX 78712


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.


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." 

January 23, 2018