The north side of Wichita is bisected by a set of railroad tracks and by I-135 that separates the mostly Latino North End from the majority Black neighborhood of the Northeast. Both neighborhoods were affected by historical segregation laws, and maintain a mostly industrial character to this day. Large grain elevators line the railroad tracks, separating the communities from one another and restricting access. When artist and activist Armando Minjarez first moved to Wichita in 2013, he began asking himself what the community would look like without these barriers. From this question, the Horizontes project was born.
Horizontes is an artist-led and community-driven project that aims to connect north Wichita and foster lasting change and solidarity. Their primary outlet is mural art, and the collective has created more than 20 murals on display across the city. Minjarez and Horizontes had long had their eye on the grain elevators, and selected the Beachner Grain elevator as the site of their most ambitious project.
Horizontes commissioned GLeo, a Colombian street artist and muralist, and together they conceived the massive large-scale project known as El Sueño Original, (The Original Dream). A group of local photographers of color sourced the reference photos for the mural, which depicts the migrant workers, immigrant laborers, and indigenous people who worked in the feedlots and meatpacking plants that line the neighborhood and displays them on a monumental scale. Orange fish eyes dot the mural, a frequent theme of GLeo’s work, representing the elements. The woman in the center of the photo, staring out at the viewer, represents Wichita.
At the time of its completion, El Sueño Original was recognized as the world’s largest mural painted by a single artist. The mural used more than 650 gallons of acrylic paint to cover 50,000 square feet of “canvas,” spanning the 17 bins of the east side of the grain elevator.
The mural was completed in December 2018, and continues to stand as a tribute to the sometimes neglected people who built Wichita.