Art history student expands his 'horizons' with community-based project

 

On a clear day, you can see the largest mural in the world from the third-floor windows of McKnight Art Center on the Wichita State campus.  

The Horizontes Project brought Columbian street artist GLeo to Wichita to paint “El Sueño Original” (the original dream) on a grain elevator in an industrial area that separates the majority African American northeast neighborhoods from the majority Latino North End. The mural depicts residents of both areas.  

Art history student Dale Small served as the art director for Horizontes, which sought to connect the two north Wichita populations.  

Small was drawn to the project because it involved “making a difference beyond putting a beautiful picture out into the world,” he said. 

Small met Horizontes Project Director and Curator Armando Minjarez through Harvester Arts, an organization focused on community engagement. Volunteering for Harvester shaped the kind of work Small wanted to do.  

“I was doing art history, but I realized this community element was really fascinating,” he said. And studying under Claudia Pederson, assistant professor of art history, changed his perspective about the kind of work art historians can do.

In addition to the grain-elevator mural, Horizontes produced a Summer Mural Jam, the Horizontes Portrait Project, and an exhibition. “The Color Line: Faces from North Wichita,” is on view at the Kansas African American Museum through May 25. It includes images from the portrait project and the results of community canvassing.  

Small used Robert Bubp’sSlowBurn” class, Artist as Administrator, to work on the portrait project, which he developed in collaboration with Minjarez and the rest of the small Horizontes team. SlowBurn courses are scheduled over the course of an entire academic year and count for six credit hours.  

Bubp encouraged Small to apply for funding through the Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities Grant Program (URCA), which helped cover photo printing costs.  

“Robert was very helpful in offering guidance through the course,” Small said. “He influenced the ways in which I thought about organizing the portrait project.” 

Small is not the only WSU student to work with Horizontes. Alexis Rivierre, a 2018 graduate, served as a photographer for the portrait project. Minjarez taught community & social practices courses during the project timeline, and his students designed plaques for each mural.  

Learn more about Horizontes at its website, horizontes-project.com.