A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Improbably, we found a welcome break from MAGA-hatted punks and the debacle that is D.C. in Wichita, Kansas, where immigrant artists are breaking down barriers, celebrating disparate cultures, bringing together Latino and African-American neighborhoods, and oh yeah painting reportedly the world’s largest, wildest mural by a single artist, on grain elevators yet. The eruption of art and activism is the work of Horizontes, (“horizons” in Spanish), a grant-funded initiative created by artist and community organizer Armando Minjarez, who immigrated to the U.S. in 2001 and seeks to celebrate both immigration and the rich culture and history it brings to communities. An exhibit of Horizontes’ projects opens this weekend at Wichita’s African-American Museum.
Over the past couple of years, Horizontes has helped create scores of murals around Wichita, always deliberately choosing artists who grew up in those neighborhoods to offer art that “serves the community.” The project’s centerpiece is the massive work on the Beachner Grain Elevator, which honors the Mexican laborers who built the city’s train tracks a century ago. Minjarez commissioned Colombian street artist GLeo, who designed hopeful images of people of color – “a dream where our differences are erased.” Says Minjarez, “We’re Latinos, immigrants, African-Americans, women, queer people that are making the project happen…This represents everything that we are capable of doing.” The goal above all: “It’s building that black and brown solidarity…telling our stories…reclaiming our space.”
This article first appeared in Common Dreams.