Funding to Create Public Art

Submit to Create Public Art to Honor La Yarda

Submit to Create Public Art to Honor the La Yarda Community

Request for Qualifications

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

Anticipated Total Public Art Budget: $35,000

Deadline for Submissions: March 15, 2024


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 of the 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 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 long-term 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 to 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.



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.


The opportunity to compete in this project is open to all professional artists residing in the United States, age 18 and over, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, military status, sexual orientation, marital status, sexual identity, or physical or mental disability. Latino, local and regional artists are strongly encouraged to submit their qualifications.

Responding artists/teams must:

  • Commit to completing the project within the specified budget for this project.

  • Commit to project completion within the agreed-upon timeline.

  • Demonstrate an involvement with projects that practice community engagement.


The panel may select finalists for interviews and possibly develop proposals.
The evaluation and scoring of Artists will center around the following criteria based on past work and written responses.

  • The Artist/s displays a strong artistic ability based on their past work. 

  • The Artist/s has a proven ability to execute projects successfully within the timelines and budgets provided. 

  • The Artist/s past work shows an appropriate connection to the art opportunity. 

  • The Artist/s shows a strong sense of public engagement and connectivity to the community in their work. 

The Steering Committee is not required to make selections from these submissions, if, in their opinion, qualifications are not appropriate.


Interested artists should enter and submit their application materials, listed below, by 11:59 pm Central Time, March 15, 2024.


●  Contact information for artist or lead artist and team members

● Provide biographical information or resume for the artist and team members.

●  Work Samples: 5 digital images of your recent projects with the following information provided: name, location, commissioning entity, participating artists, purpose, process, medium, size, date of completion, and cost. 

●  A letter of interest, up to 500 words, outlining your approach to public art and interest in making art for this particular project, including, but not limited to, what you bring to the project as an artist; any personal connections to the themes of this public art project; what you would hope to gain from this experience; and your approach to community engagement in public art.

●  Three references for recently completed projects.


Qualifications Due: 11:59 p.m. Central Time, March 15, 2024

Panel Review(s): April 2024

Proposals Reviewed/Artist(s) Selected: May 2024

Estimated Project Completion Date: Summer/Fall of 2025


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