New Duerksen amphitheater mural will celebrate Wichita State’s Hispanic influences

  • A mural planned for the Duerksen Amphitheater will highlight the influences and history of the Latine community for Wichita State and the community.
  • Colombian muralist GLeo painted the Beachner Grain Elevator mural in 2018.
  • Wichita State students are contributing to the project with research on the university and city's heritage.

From the second floor of his office in Morrison Hall, President Rick Muma can see the Duerksen Fine Arts Center Amphitheater. Three miles to the west, he can see the Beachner Grain Elevator mural “El Sueño Original – The Original Dream,” from his office window. 

By May, that view will be connected when Nathalia Gallego (GLeo) completes a new mural, called “Adelante Juntos – Forward Together,” covering the on-campus amphitheater. 

“It adds to the cultural vibrancy of the university,” said Muma. “We’re now an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution. Bringing art focused on the Latino population, of the university, the city and the state demonstrates that we value everybody on campus. That’s what I see this mural doing for the campus.” 

Gallego, the Colombian muralist who painted “El Sueño Original,” arrived in late March. Work on the mural begins in early April, and the public unveiling is scheduled for May 3.  

“Wichita State University is situated in a culturally rich area of the city,” said Dr. Sara Mata, executive director, Hispanic Serving Institution. “It is thrilling how this mural will showcase and represent our Latine students, families, and the overall community.”

Gallego’s work will draw on historical information gathered through Belonging Plaza, WSU’s mobile commemorative tool, and from University Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. The students in the Hispanic American Leadership Organization and Latine Greek organizations will develop that information to help the design. 

The mural, and the collaboration that informs the work, amplifies WSU’s Hispanic-Serving Institution goals. The university is designated an Emerging HSI, with 17% of its undergraduate students identifying as Hispanic.

“It fits well as we’re thinking about what we do here as an urban public research university,” Muma said. “Our mission is access and affordability and helping our community solve problems and speak to issues. It’s a visual demonstration of that commitment.”  

GLeoCourtesy photo
Muralist Nathalia Gallego (GLeo) will soon begin work on “Adelante Juntos – Forward Together" on the Duerksen Fine Arts Center Amphitheater.

WSU’s goal is to reach the 25% necessary to earn the federal government’s designation as an HSI by the end of this decade. 

“As an emerging HSI, it is vital to find ways to reflect the demographics of our student’s as well as the State of Kansas,” Mata said. “The authenticity and intentionality that has gone into this project is immense.”

The project sprung from conversations about how to liven up the parking garage near the Rhatigan Student Center. Its brick walls made a mural impractical. But the Duerksen amphitheater offered an appealing canvas at a prominent campus spot. 

“I would always ask (students) to identify underutilized areas of campus that could be activated,” said Kristin Beal, curator of public practice at WSU’s Ulrich Museum of Art. “The amphitheater is always the top of that list.” 

In 2018, WSU students and alums contributed research and volunteer time to the Horizontes Project. “El Sueño Original – The Original Dream,” located at at 519 E 20th St N, was a major part of that project. The Horizontes Project strove to connect the predominantly Latine area and the historically African American neighborhoods in that part of Wichita.  

Local artist Armando Minjárez originally brought Gallego to Wichita as a Knight Cities Challenge winner with the Horizontes Project. He is also producing this new mural for the Ulrich Museum of Art. 

“We had some great partnerships with Wichita State for that project,” Minjárez said. “We wanted to bring that same spirit onto campus.” 

When Gallego arrives, she will use photos and information gathered through student research and Special Collections that show Hispanic contributions to the university over the years.  

“It’s acknowledging that there’s been plenty of Hispanic students who have already left their imprint,” Minjárez said. “Our first step was to reach out to the Hispanic and Latino students who are already enrolled. Their predecessors have also shaped the university in different ways.”  

Duerksen Fine Arts Center AmphitheaterSara Tank-Ornelas
Duerksen Fine Arts Center Amphitheater in its current state. Work begins soon on a mural “Adelante Juntos – Forward Together,” which will highlight the Hispanic influence on the university and city.

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