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Request for Qualifications

Lawrence, Kansas - Public Art Project to Honor the La Yarda Housing Community


Submissions have closed! 

The Lawrence Arts Center, in collaboration with LiveWell Douglas County and the City of Lawrence Department of Parks, Recreation, Arts and Culture, is seeking a professional artist or artist teams to develop a long lasting, innovative, original work of art to honor the Mexican American community of La Yarda, a housing unit created by the Santa Fe Railroad to house workers from 1920-51. The artwork will be installed on the Lawrence Lawrence Loop trail system in East Lawrence within a few blocks proximity of where the La Yarda neighborhood once stood. Emerging artists are encouraged to apply in collaboration with more established artists and/or fabricators. Community engagement will be an important part of this project and artists with cultural connections to the history are especially welcome.


Historical signage to accompany this artwork will be funded separately but the artist may collaborate with the signage design team on the aesthetics for integration. This public artwork project, made possible by funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas as part of LiveWell Douglas County’s Pathways to a Healthy Kansas grant, will recognize the contributions of the La Yarda residents and invite visitors to revisit history while engaging in the outdoor trail system. The steering committee is comprised of arts professionals familiar with the field of public art from the Lawrence Arts Center and the Lawrence Department of Parks, Recreation Arts and Culture, community members from the La Yarda families, and representatives from Douglas County Live-Well, the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association and the Watkins Museum of History. 


In the 1920s, the Santa Fe Railroad built housing units for Mexican-American workers that would come to be known in Lawrence as La Yarda. The brick apartments replaced boxcars in hopes of encouraging workers to remain in the area longterm with their families. With small quarters and a lack of electricity and running water, amenities were sparse but the families worked together to create a strong, welcoming and connected community. Meals were shared, gardens flourished and children played together, making up for their limited resources with creativity and imagination. In 1951, a devastating flood left the La Yarda housing units uninhabitable and many families relocated in what is known today as the Warehouse Arts District. The only physical remnants that remain today are the concrete foundations of the buildings, a well, and a smattering of scattered bricks; but the memories and cultural traditions live on in the Mexican American community of Lawrence.

Click here to learn more about the history of La Yarda.



The total anticipated public art project budget is $35,000. This not-to-exceed total must cover all costs associated with the design, fabrication, installation, infrastructure, site-preparation, site visits, and other related expenses.



For further information, contact Marlo Angell, or 785-843-2787 ext. 132

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