Horizontes, a 2017 Knight Cities Challenge winner, is an artist-driven, community engagement art project that aims to connect two underrepresented neighborhoods in north Wichita, the predominantly Latino NorthEnd and historically African American Northeast neighborhoods, which are both physically and psychologically separated by large grain elevators along the industrial corridor.
Through a door-to-door community engagement campaign and the creation of large-scale murals, we hope to catalyze a participatory vision for the future of north Wichita.
Horizontes is one of 33 Knight Cities Challenge 2017 Winners, and was selected from more than 4,500 applicants. The Knight Cities Challenge seeks new ideas from innovators who will take hold of the future of our cities.
Wichita is seen as a diverse city bubbling with opportunity and fresh community development initiatives. This renewed economic activity raises the question of who has access to these renewed opportunities and resources. The North and Northeast neighborhoods are living examples of a historic and systemic lack of access to opportunity and resources that could result in lasting community development.
Knight Cities Challenge winning projects must focus on one or all three key drivers of city success, as outlined by the Knight Foundation:
Horizontes directly addresses all three key drivers by prioritizing the needs and vision of neighborhood residents. Our unique approach to facilitating social change combines proven community organizing and collective visioning strategies, which are strengthened by the use of public art projects and innovative uses of new technology.
Despite the massive institutional neglect, north Wichita is rich in history and character.
We will facilitate the sharing of personal stories to break down barriers created by stereotypes and misunderstanding. In doing this, residents will move toward a process of participatory neighborhood visioning, which will provide opportunities for a real exchange of ideas and a deeper sense of dignity and pride. This fresh approach to social change has the potential to initiate more effective collaboration between government and the people it serves. What once was a dividing line between neighborhoods, can become a catalyst for community pride and deepened connections.
Three internationally renowned artists will collaborate with local artists in the creation of one large-scale mural on a concrete grain elevator and four smaller murals strategically placed around the industrial corridor separating the two parts of north Wichita. The large mural will serve as a landmark of solidarity and pride, while the smaller murals will ground the neighborhoods in their amplification of residents’ stories, collective history, and vision.
The preservation and celebration of the cultural history of both neighborhoods have never been so important or relevant as in today’s socio-political climate. To look to the future, we must acknowledge our past. Preserving and celebrating local history is a crucial catalyst for community pride and healthy growth. HORIZONTES will document the personal stories of residents through audio recordings and portraiture.
We will ask this question through a door-to-door community engagement campaign. Teams of artists, activists, and residents will hit the streets to record personal stories and collect residential data. The collected data will create a quantitative living document that promotes the personal agency of residents in the transformation of their neighborhoods. These pieces of living history will be added to an interactive website that will identify neighborhood priorities, showcase the history of north Wichita, and illuminate a shared vision for the future.
Recurring themes identified during the door-to-door engagement process will provide the framework for community workshops open to residents of both neighborhoods. Organizers will present the collected data, and residents will dialogue in order to further delineate community priorities and build a consensus vision for the future. We will pursue venues that have the capacity to display large-scale resident portraits in conjunction with each community workshop.
To conclude the work created in collaboration north Wichita neighborhood residents, we will celebrate with a block party featuring music, dance, food, and stories of cooperation, resilience, and liberation. The broader Wichita community will be invited to join in this celebration of creative expression, cultural legacies, and neighborhood pride.