Reaction to the images of racist anti-immigrant graffiti from Wichita, Kansas shared with Latino Rebels earlier this morning has already gained momentum in our Facebook community and on our Tumblr. The story was also featured in Buzzfeed. The response by the artists who discovered their works defaced? They are “are ready to strike back.”
In a release sent to Latino Rebels this afternoon from The Seed House/La Casa de la Semilla Inc., an “Army of Artists” is being launched tonight in Wichita “to create safe spaces where grassroots leaders, artists and activists can come together and, through the arts and self-reflection, have a critical understanding of their environment and create innovative propositions to ways of living together.”
The statement continues:
We want to mobilize Wichita’s creative community around collaborative public art projects that elevate a lively spirit of justice and colorful cultural expression in Wichita neighborhoods.
While there is a positive buzz leading into tonight’s launch, the Army’s mission is already under attack and has gotten attention of national news outlets.
Last fall, The Seed House organized a group of South high school students Latino Leaders, to paint a mural about an issue that affects their daily lives: immigration. The mural, on Park Place at 21st Street, was vandalized last night by an unknown person who scrawled the words “Wetback”, “KKK”, and “Welfare” across the mural in large letters.
Furthermore, Bluebird Arthouse, the art supply store hosting the first meeting for the Army of Artists tonight, was also targeted by the vandals spray-painting the words “wetback” and “Cut Welfare” outside the store.
Wichita creatives are ready to strike back
Sarai Melendez, member of Latino Leaders and one of the students who painted the mural reacts “All we wanted to do is bring a good message to this community, I feel upset and hurt, this was my biggest accomplishment. We will make more and continue to express ourselves…this DOESN’T STOP US!”
Dozens of artists and community members will lay plans for more public art projects and will concentrate their efforts in North Wichita; a vibrant community of immigrants, and the site of the cowardly act of bigotry that defaced the first mural.
The Seed House~Casa de la Semilla will focus the efforts by the ICT-Army of Artists one neighborhood at the time. There are several partnerships with business owners, schools, faith organizations and city government representing North Wichita.
“We want to measure the impact of our cultural interventions; we want to show the powerful transformations within the community, both visually and personally” said cultural educator and artist, Armando Minjarez.