February 4, 2023

UT Landmarks nets national public art award



Americans for the Arts today today that “Amistad América,” José Parlá’s 4,000-square-foot mural at the University of Texas at Austin, is one of the 50 outstanding public art projects created in 2018.

At its annual convention in Minneapolis, the national arts advocacy organization recognized outstanding projects through its Public Art Network’s “Year in Review” awards. The awards are the only national program that annually recognizes excellence in public art.

Commissioned by Landmarks, UT’s public art program, “Amistad América” is the fifth Landmarks project  to receive a Public Art Network award.

José Parlá, "Amistad América,"
José Parlá, “Amistad América,” 2018. Courtesy of Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin. Photo by Paul Bardagjy

Located in UT’s Robert B. Rowling Hall, “Amistad América” was unveiled in early 2018 and spans the long entrance lobby entrance to the Zlotnik Family Ballroom. The mural’s monumental scale — it  measures 25 by 160 feet — emphasizes its metaphoric complexity, Parlá’s interpretation of the natural and cultural landscape of Texas and the Americas.

Parlá used his typical layering techniques including variegated collage, dense pigments and calligraphic strokes.

“For this project, I have continued to work with my interest in the history of migration and began by painting abstract shapes of broken wall surfaces resembling the outline of maps, and borders between nations,” Parlá has said about the mural. “Calligraphic flourishes suggest our civilization’s continual struggle with migratory traces, trade, and cultural exchanges that harm the natural world and form a charged political climate.”

The artist painted the mural on site while the building was still under construction, using a scissor lift to reach the upper part of the wall.

José Parlá working on his "Amistad América" mural.
José Parlá working on his “Amistad América” mural. Courtesy of Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin. Photo by Christina Murrey

“We are honored to have this project recognized among the country’s most compelling public art and we salute José Parlá’s unique artistic vision,” said Andrée Bober, founding director of Landmarks. “His mural captures the spirit of Texas and the Americas on a monumental scale, and it has been widely embraced by our community.”

All the 2019 Public Art Netwok “Year in Review” Award can be viewed on this page.



Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
An award-winning arts journalist, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the founder and editor-in-chief of Sightlines.

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