Wednesday, May 25, 7pm – Non-Fiction
Lily Yeh author of Awakening Creativity: Dandelion School Blossoms ($34.95 New Village Press)
Once described as the “Mother Theresa of community arts,” Lily Yeh is a Philadelphia-based visual artist by way of China and Taiwan. She has won numerous awards, including an Arts and Healing Network Award as well as a Founder’s Award from the Fleisher Organization. She has completed residencies and given keynote speeches at universities throughout the United States. Lily emigrated to the United States in the early 1960s to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate school of Fine Arts. A successful painter and professor at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, Lily traveled to Beijing in 1989 to show her work at the Central Institute of Fine Art. There, she witnessed the tragic events of Tiananmen Square. Over the 1980s, Lily gradually realized that being an artist “is not just about making art . . . It is about delivering the vision one is given . . . and about doing the right thing without sparing oneself.” She founded The Village of Arts and Humanities in Philadelphia and continues pursuing her vision through her new organization, Barefoot Artists, which teaches residents and artists how to replicate the Village model in devastated communities around the world. Lily is most noted for transforming an urban neighborhood in North Philadelphia into an inner-city work of art. Once an empty lot, Yeh worked with the community to create an interactive park space filled with gardens and mosaics. Lily’s vision has rippled out far beyond North Philadelphia’s borders. She inspires and collaborates with prison inmates to create beauty and art, and does the same with thousands of adults and children who live in some of the world’s most broken communities. She has collaborated with residents of the Korogocho slum near Nairobi to enliven a barren churchyard with colorful murals and sculptures and traveled to Ghana, Ecuador, The Ivory Coast and the Republic of Georgia to work on similar projects. Her most recent endeavor is the Rwanda Healing Project, in which she worked with hundreds of children and families to transform their bleak village into a place of beauty and joy.
“Lily Yeh is a global angel who not only believes in the power of people engaged, but inspires and ignites them through her own creative fire. Lily Yeh changed my life completely and if you read this book, your life as you know it will begin to change, as well, through the vibrancy of art in action called love.”
—Terry Tempest Williams, author, Finding Beauty in a Broken World
“An inspiration for anyone who cares about kids, beauty and reinventing education to ignite greater joy, expression and leadership. At once visionary and eminently useful and practical, Lily Yeh celebrates the profound capacity of art to seed and support human transformation.” – —Matthew Fox, PhD, author, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet and The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human.
“A story about the beauty we each possess, the potential for rebirth at any time in life, and the power of an engaged, inspired community. This book shows the artist’s hand, eye, and mind at work, and its greatest reward is revealing the artist’s heart for us all to consider.” —Glenn Holsten, filmmaker and director of An Angel in the Village, a documentary about Lily Yeh’s work in North Philadelphia
“Lily Yeh is a passionate dedicated artist-alchemist who not only awakens creativity and beauty in broken places of the world she cultivates the human spirit to heal, transform, and blossom like the mosaic tree of life she helps communities create.” —Elizabeth Murray, artist, garden designer, author, Cultivating Sacred Space: Gardening for the Soul and Monet’s Passion
“This beautiful book shines a light on the hard work of making magic in the modern world. As with all of Lily’s adventures, her work in China is a powerful testament to enormous power of the creative spirit.”
—William Cleveland, author, Art and Upheaval: Artists on the World’s Frontlines, Art in Other Places and Between Grace and Fear
“Awakening Creativity should be read by every educator, artist, activist, architect and parent, as it will change the way we understand education, parenting, healing and social change.” —Nina Simons, Co-founder and Co-CEO, Bioneers
“Lily’s book unveils, in practical and loving detail, the carefully conceived methodology of a master artist and community builder that can be replicated in schools and communities anywhere.” —Judy Wicks, Founder, White Dog Cafe, Philadelphia, and Co-founder, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
“Ms. Lily Yeh has an extraordinary ability to combine the best elements of the left and right brain in countless projects of international acclaim. We can use her book as/ testament and a road map to a far better world.” —Bill Strickland, MacArthur Fellow and CEO, Manchester/Bidwell
“This book offers a powerful illustration of the catalytic role that art can play in our lives and how when people—of all ages—are challenged to create together, real transformation occurs.” —Jane Golden, Director, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program