July 4 Parade Debut for College of Liberal Arts

Four art students designed parade float for annual Arlington Independence Day Parade

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2024 • Cristal Gonzalez : contact

Student painting COLA float
Photo courtesy of the College of Liberal Arts

The work of four students from the Department of Art and Art History will be on display this Thursday during the Arlington Independence Day Parade, one of the largest 4th of July parades in the U.S.

The college initially reached out to Fernando Johnson, senior lecturer and sculpture area coordinator, and Matt Clark, associate professor of practice, in late December to commission them to create a float for the parade. But the two instructors decided it would be a better idea to involve their students in the project.

Sculpture students Amelia Spence and Daniel Martinez, painting student Abigail Mata, and recent painting graduate Francisco Marquez were tasked with creating a float to represent the College of Liberal Arts for its first appearance in the longtime Arlington celebration. They began work immediately following the end of the spring 2024 semester.

Johnson said the students collaborated with the college to find a way to make something that was visually impressive, represented school spirit and embodied the idea of cultural arts. Ultimately, their idea was to design hands painted in UTA blue and orange making fists and holding pendants for each of the areas in the college.

“Our students are so skilled, they did just about everything for the project,” said Johnson. “It was awesome working with them. I haven’t had a good chance to work with students on such a big endeavor, and they really did a great job.”

The students worked through the summer to complete the float. Spence said the day they finished was surreal—they felt like they would never get it done because it was such a giant project.

“It was a blast working with the other students to make this project come to life,” she said. "Usually, I’m the type to want to work alone but with something of this scale that’s just crazy to think about. My classmates were awesome at organizing, communicating, and getting the tasks at hand done, as well their amazing artistic ability.”

Students painting COLA float
Photo courtesy of the College of Liberal Arts