Lily Yeh

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Lily Yeh (born 1941) is an artist who was born in Kueizhou, China. In 1963, she immigrated to the United States to attend the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Fine Arts. She was a professor of painting and art history at Philadelphia's University of the Arts from 1968 until 1998.[1]


In 1986, Lily Yeh was asked by Arthur Hall, founder of the Afro-American Dance Ensemble, to create a park in the abandoned lot next to his studio in North Philadelphia. She transformed the lot into an art park with mosaic murals and sculpted trees.[2]

The park was the beginning of The Village of Arts and Humanities, which was co-founded by Yeh in 1989. Lily, along with neighborhood residents and staff members, transformed more than 120 other lots into gardens and parks.[3] They have also renovated vacant homes, creating art workshops, a youth theater, and educational programs.[2] In 2004, Yeh left the Village of Arts and Humanities to pursue other work internationally.[4]

In 2003, Lily Yeh founded the non-profit organization Barefoot Artists Inc. Using the same concept and model used in Philadelphia, the Barefoot Artists works to train and empower local residents, organize communities, and take action to use the power of art to transform impoverished communities. Recently, Yeh has worked on projects in 10 countries including Rwanda, Kenya, Ecuador, and her home country of China.[5]

As a part of the Barefoot Artists Inc, Lily Yeh founded the Rwanda Healing Project. This project is working with children, using art in communities to bring peace in villages that have experienced the genocide and civil war. She designed the Rugerero Genocide Memorial Monument Park in 2004 and it was built in 2005 with help from hundreds of local villagers.[6]

Yeh has been included in the Asian American Art Centre's artasiamerica digital archive.


  1. ^ 2009 Founder's Award Recipient, Lily Yeh.
  2. ^ a b Lily Yeh Biography, Americans Who Tell the Truth
  3. ^ All That We Share: How to Save the Economy, the Environment, the Internet, Democracy, Our Communities and Everything Else that Belongs to All of Us with Bill McKibben Introduction (2011) ISBN 978-1-59558-499-1
  4. ^ "Lily Yeh". Project for Public Spaces. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  5. ^ Barefoot Artists Projects
  6. ^ Pompilio, Natalie (Dec 20, 2011). "Lily Yeh: Beauty in Broken Places". Yes Magazine. Retrieved August 13, 2012.