Select Page
The “Obatala & the Tree Goddess” Mural The “Obatala & the Tree Goddess” Mural

A Tribute to the Village of Arts & Humanities

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Village, Lily Yeh designed this mural to commemorate the legacy of renowned artists Arthur Hall and Barbara Bullock.

The late Arthur Hall was an internationally eminent choreographer, dancer, and the founder of the Arthur Hall Afro-American Dance Ensemble and the Ile-Ife Black Humanitarian Center in North Philadelphia.


Arthur Hall’s work has transformed many people’s lives, including my own, when he invited me to create an art park on his abandoned lot 30 years ago. The humble summer project with children evolved into the Village of Arts and Humanities. He showed me the power of art and creative action. I remain forever grateful.”                                          
– Lily Yeh

Barbara Bullock is a highly acclaimed Philadelphia-based artist and teacher. She has received numerous prestigious regional and national awards.

“Forging together the vitality from African art, the inventiveness of contemporary art, with her unique sensitivity and humor, Barbara creates images filled with power and magic. Her ‘tree goddess’ has so moved me that I feel compelled to revive it. To me, the goddess personifies the beauty and fecundity of the place.”                                                      
– Lily Yeh

The figure swaying in an ample white robe on the left commemorates Arthur Hall’s creation and performance as Obatala in his signature theater piece of the same title. Obatala embodies the creative spirit, purity, and moral righteousness of the Yoruba people of Nigeria.

We heartily congratulate the Village’s recent prestigious award from ArtPlace America. It is one of the 23 selected from 1,000 applicants nationally.

Methodology – Creative Direction Methodology – Creative Direction

An email popped up in the Barefoot Artist’s inbox, asking for guidance on how to cultivate international community involvement in a mural project that will tackle two, blank New York garages (the canvas).

What shall we paint?
What subjects are of interest to the community?
How do I gather the artists?’
What images can I propose or how to solicit stories from them to be painted?

Lily Yeh, founder of the Barefoot Artists Organization responded with “When I am in that situation not knowing what to design, I usually go to the people and ask them what would they like to see on the wall. I think you can start with a design workshop, prepare art materials and ask the participants what they would like to see on the wall. Pin up their works and let them discuss and come up with ideas. Once they agree on something, maybe they can help you design the wall. You can have artists on hand to help and guide. This should be a fun and participatory process that will keep people interested and engaged.”

This situation is similar a phase of the Rwanda Healing Project. The residents in Rugerero Twa village wanted help from Barefoot Artists to build an art house to exhibit their pottery. With no ideas on what to design for the village, a workshop was set up where men, women, and children in separate groups created design reflecting their aspirations. It turned out that what they desired was not just an art house but an art complex that included a high firing communal kiln, roofed workshop space, storage, exhibition gallery, toilets, and a shower. That was the beginning of how Rugerero Pottery compound came into being.

Barefoot Artists

Ile Ife Mural’s 30th Anniversary

Cheers to nostalgia!

The Village of Arts and Humanities (The Village) has been building community-art relations in Philadelphia, PA for over 30 years! The Village is a multifaceted arts organization dedicated to community building through the arts.

In 1986 Lily Yeh began the design and painted a three-story mural “Ile Ife Guardian Mural” with a mythic owl beaming rainbow colored light and life to plants, fish, and animals under its gigantic wings.

The Village today, continues to be a vibrant force of creativity and a deep sense of rootedness.

More information about The Village can be found here.

Barefoot Artists

Ile Ife Park site at 10th St & Germantown Ave in 1986

Barefoot Artists

The Village today, continues to be a presence of creativity and jubilance

New Project Announcement in Florida

Barefoot Artists

From August 10-15, 2017 the Barefoot Artist Organization will visit West Palm Beach, Florida to initiate the Sun Set Park Project (working title, named because of the one time beloved Sunset Lounge filled with jazz and fun). By collaborating with the city’s redevelopment team and Jon Ward, the park’s Community Redevelopment Area Executive Director, we plan to transform the park into a community influenced public space.

More updates to come as the project develops!

The EACH Foundation
Barefoot Artist
We are deeply grateful for the generous grant from The EACH Foundation which empowered our organization to revisit and continue it’s work with the Mei Hwa School Transformation Project in Daxi, Taiwan. It will also enable us to return in September to the Blackfeet community in Browning, Montana where our team plans to work with students from the Heart Butte High School to develop a community project.

“Thank you for empowering us to continue our work!”
-Lily Yeh

The EACH Foundation prides itself on being radically inclusive and open to everyone. We are an egalitarian, ethnically and socio-economically diverse group of 25 civi-minded individuals from all walks of life, trying to make a positive impact in our communities and the world around us. Very simply, our philosophy is to bring positive change through our free physical and intellectual efforts, in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
Skibbereen Arts Festival 2017 in Ireland

The Barefoot Artist film is screening at the Skibbereen Arts Festival 2017!

Skibbereen Arts Festival
Town Hall
August 1, 2017
More details here.

Art is everywhere in West Cork, Ireland in the scenery, in the people and in the atmosphere.

During the Skibbereen Arts Festival Wests Cork becomes one big art gallery with a world-class programme of music, film, theatre, exhibitions, poetry, installations, workshops, walks, talks and a spectacular 1970s street disco. This year it celebrates the arts as a positive force in areas of conflict around the world and in the field of mental health. We also focus on national and local history and of course ‘disco’!

Maryland Institute College of Art Visit

“It was a privilege for me to hear their voices and feel their inspiration.” -Lily Yeh

(March 7, 2017) Lily Yeh’s visit first and second year students at the graduate program of Community Arts at MICA. The students are mature, committed, smart, and creative! They will walk into society as torches of light fueled by the knowledge, disciplines and purpose from the faculty and classmates of their department and mission of MICA, Maryland Institute College of Art. 


Coming April 2017

Mei Hwa Transformation Project Phase III

Barefoot Artist

Mei Hwa Transformation Project 2016

In Daxi, Taiwan the Mei Hwa Elementary School will be entering phase III of the Mei Hwa Transformation Project this April.  Learn more about the project here.

Community Design

In Gao Hsung, Taiwan the Barefoot Artist organization will be working with Zi Zhu Ling Shi and communities on art and mural design.

‘We’re still here:’ Artists seek to restore pride, color in Blackfeet lives

Missourian Newspaper

HEART BUTTE – There’s a beauty in this Blackfeet reservation town that a sunrise on the Rocky Mountain Front can only match.

It has to do with the proud, fierce and buffalo-rich lords of the plains, their horses and guns and a way of life that once seemed like it would last forever.

But it has to do too with terrible things – smallpox infestations, a massacre on the Marias in 1870, the Starvation Winter of 1883-84, the devastating flood of 1964, the fire that forced evacuation of Heart Butte just two summers ago.

And it has to do with Heart Butte itself, rising stark behind Heart Butte School but hidden from the rest of town. With enough prompting, Jeremiah Hinkle will tell you why.

An soft-spoken high school junior, Hinkle was thinking about that very thing as he rode the bus to school last week at daybreak.

“I don’t really think about what happened on the mountain,” said Hinkle, who sports glasses, a mustache and a goatee. “It’s more a respect for the mountain, a respect for nature.”

In this century the Southern Pikunni huddle here in wooden houses, at a time of year when their ancestors would have been settling in for the winter on the Teton River around Choteau. The arctic winds don’t blow so hard down there.

“A lot of the culture we had came from nature,” Hinkle said. “We learned how to hunt like a wolf, watched how they hunt together in a pack as a team. We got our shelter from buffalo. We learned how to be sly from the coyote.

“That respect for nature. … It can be powerful. It can be peaceful.”

Those are words to cling to for Sally Thompson and Lily Yeh.

Thompson is an anthropologist from Missoula who has spent much of the past 30 years studying the rich textures of Blackfeet society. She’s convinced that the best way to come to grips with the poverty, substance abuse and hopelessness so prevalent on the reservation is for the people themselves to come to grips with that proud and terrible past.

Yeh is all in.

The diminutive artist was born in China but has spent most of her life in the United States, when she’s not globe-trotting to some of the most destitute and broken outposts in the world. She is a global superstar at what she does, helping communities transform the bleak and ugly into monuments of color and beauty.

And Yeh, who lives in Philadelphia, has the Blackfeet Reservation firmly in her sights.

Continue reading here.

Pin It on Pinterest