The Village of Arts & Humanities
With the transformation of a single vacant lot into an art park created with and for neighborhood children, The Village was born.
History (1986 – 2004)
The Village began in 1986 as a park-building project by Philadelphia-based artist Lily Yeh. With a group of North Philadelphia residents, mostly children, she cleared a trash strewn vacant lot and began to build an art park that incorporated mosaic sculptures, murals, and landscaping with trees and flowers. Over the next few years, Yeh’s project was joined by artists, builders, educators and a growing number of community residents caught up in the vision of creating a sub-community dedicated to cooperative interaction and creativity.
The Village of the Arts and Humanities, Inc. was formally incorporated in 1989 as a non-profit organization. The Village acquired and renovated a three-story building and began offering year-round arts and educational programs. Over time, The Village added more programs including theatrical productions, festivals, exhibits, and literary publications, eventually becoming a forum for broader community issues and programs.
The Village is now under new and fantastic leadership with great energy and a host of wonderful community programs. Please visit villagearts.org to learn more.
Parks and Gardens
Building community implies building people and their physical environment. We build people through education, communal activities, and social programs. We build the physical environment through creating parks and gardens and renovating abandoned buildings and constructing new ones. This development has two purposes, to serve the Village and to serve neighborhood residents.
The aesthetic appeal is of great importance in property development in The Village neighborhood. All the gardens, parks, and buildings constructed by The Village must reveal our philosophy, sensitivity, and values. Their look should bring people joy, peace, and comfort. There should be a mystery to them, for their appearance is rooted in the depth of different cultural traditions, some of which have distant and ancient origins. These constructions should warm people’s hearts for they honor the humble, the human, and the forgotten.
Serving as the lead artist and project director for most of the parks, gardens and open spaces constructed at The Village, Lily Yeh worked with many fellow artists, builders, landscapers, and designers to create the beautiful environment at The Village. Under the guidance of the late James (Big Man) Maxton, who was an excellent mosaic artist himself, the Village construction crew, composed of adults from the neighborhood, built the many parks, gardens, and most of the sculptural pieces at the Village.