Lily Yeh is a compassionate and charismatic visual artist, sculptor, and activist whose community art projects have transformed the lives of thousands of people from Rwanda to West Palm Beach. “Creating art in forlorn and forsaken places is like making fire in the frozen darkness of the winter’s night,” she has said.
As Minneapolis initiates the historic Neighborhood Park Plan, a 20-year reinvestment in community parks, and seeks to reconcile decades of social injustice, Yeh’s practice of using art and beauty to heal can provide us with a roadmap to common ground.
In this can’t miss talk, Yeh will share her experience creating community in Philadelphia, transforming a school and its students in Beijing, and bringing healing through the Genocide Memorial Park, Rugerero Survivors Village, in Gisenyi, Rwanda.
Over 40 years, Yeh has refined a deliberate process for placemaking in which every step has an intention, even as, she says “people think we’ll be playing.” Yeh puts children at the center, because their innate vivacity and curiosity breaks down barriers and establishes what she describes as an “open space for everyone to step into on equal footing.” As the project unfolds, the voice of the community is heard and community leaders emerge.
Who Should Attend
Art and parks lovers, community activists, world-travelers (armchair and otherwise), and especially placemakers and planners, will all be moved and inspired by Yeh’s story. Be prepared: This talk will change how see the world and yourself in it.
More About Lily Yeh
Lily Yeh is an internationally celebrated artist whose work has taken her to communities throughout the world. As founder and executive director of the Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia from 1968 to 2004, she helped create a national model in creative place-making and community building through the arts. In 2002, Yeh pursued her work internationally, founding Barefoot Artists, Inc., to bring the transformative power of art to impoverished communities around the globe through participatory, multifaceted projects that foster community empowerment, improve the physical environment, promote economic development and preserve indigenous art and culture. In addition to the United States, she has carried out projects in multiple countries including Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Rwanda, China, Taiwan, Ecuador, Syria, Republic of Georgia, Haiti, and Palestine.
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