Finding La Yarda is an immersive multimedia art experience recreating a room from La Yarda, the housing unit built for Mexican American railroad workers in Lawrence, Kansas from 1920-51. Using film, sound, art and digital storytelling practices, Finding La Yarda brings oral history to life by taking audiences on a cultural journey through time and place.
This project is produced by the Lawrence Arts Center by a sub-award from Stories for All: A Digital Storytelling Project for the Twenty-First Century, an initiative hosted by the Hall Center for the Humanities in partnership with the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Kansas and supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Stories for All brings together over forty Kansas-based partner projects dedicated to gathering marginalized and suppressed histories, interconnecting them, and sharing them widely through digital media.
This project recognizes the dedication of previous individuals and organizations who have researched the history of the La Yarda community in Lawrence such as the individual La Yarda families and their kin, the surrounding Mexican American community, Helen Krische and others at the Watkins Museum of History; Jacinta Langford, Francisco Lemus Jr. and Nora Murphy at St. John’s Church; Architectural Historian Brenna Buchannan Young, the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association, the Lawrence Public Library, the Lawrence Preservation Alliance, and many others. This art installation utilizes the oral histories featured in the Searching for La Yarda documentary by Lourdes Kalusha-Aguirre and Marlo Angell from 2021 as well as several new oral histories filmed in 2022-23 as its primary sources for inspiration for this realization. We invite the public to further explore the local history of previous scholars’ work to learn more and enthusiastically look forward to new research on this topic by future generations.