Lily Yeh is coming to Drexel University on Thursday, October 23rd at the URBN Center Annex! Check-In and Reception begins at 6:00 pm and the screening begins at 7:00 pm. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Lily Yeh and the filmmakers of The Barefoot Artist, Glenn Holstein and Daniel Traub. Registration is required at lilyyehdu.eventbrite.com. See you there!
“Recognizing that creativity and beauty are powerful agents for healing and change, Barefoot Artists works with poor communities around the globe practicing the arts to bring healing, self-empowerment and social change.”
There is great need in the world. This is a time when we are struggling, as a global community, to address issues that have been building for so long, and are embedded so deeply, that we cannot always even remember how they started. Hunger, disease, corruption, inequality- these issues plague us across the globe, and all we can do is work together towards their end; towards their solution. Where does art fit in to these solutions? I look at organizations like Barefoot Artists, and I am humbled by the willingness of people to soldier on, in the face of great adversity to art and evolution, to bring artistic experiences to those who might otherwise never get to express themselves as so many of us are privileged to do. When was the last time we truly appreciated the time we get to paint, to write, to photograph our world? And what can we do to ensure that others are given this time as well. As a child of art camps and community theatre, I have felt this connection to art my whole life, uninterrupted and unquestioned. Too many children are not given the time to express themselves, to surround themselves with color, or to question the world through their artistic conversations.
It takes people like Lily Yeh to remind us all that for many, perhaps for most, artistic moments must be carved out of the roughness of life, often with the help of an organization like Barefoot Artists. Lily Yeh inspires me with her ongoing work to address these issues through her art, and through her efforts to encourage community and caring through art. As so many of us do, Lily Yeh draws on her life and experiences to find the stamina to encourage artistic voices and minds all over the world. Art is not a base need of the body. It is a nourishment of the mind and the soul that no one should have to go without. The world needs healing now. It needs people to look one another in the eye and say “we have better things to do with our lives than be in conflict, in hardship, or in a creative desert.”
The Barefoot Artists organization works to “bring healing, self-empowerment, and social change” to the world through art. Lily Yeh’s lifelong work and message has been one of raising herself and others up through artistic expression and freedom. Her new documentary, The Barefoot Artist, which will be screened on October 23rd at Drexel University’s URBN Annex, with an open conversation with Lily Yeh and the filmmakers following, is a story not only of her international work, but also of her internal work, which any artist will tell you, is often inextricably linked. Our internal world, our struggle to be our most honest and healed self, is the key to truly effecting change outside ourselves. Now 70, Lily Yeh opens up this lifelong work to a wide audience through this new documentary.
Philadelphia is home to many artists, young and old, foreign-born and born a block away. I came to Drexel University to study art and artists, and find myself ever-more amazed at the strength, the honesty, and the creativity that is embedded in each of us. Not just artists, but each of us as human beings. And it takes women like Lily Yeh, willing to give so much time and energy to the cultivation of art and artists around the world for many people to realize what might have been simmering in themselves all along. When we are little, and someone puts a paintbrush in our hand and lays colorful pigments before us, there is no hesitation, no question of what to do. We splatter, we slosh, we laugh, and we live. Lily Yeh is helping the world to live, one community, one child, one inner world at a time.
Written by Hannah Rechtschaffen, First-Year AADM Student