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NEW Book by Lily Yeh That Aim to Move You NEW Book by Lily Yeh That Aim to Move You

144 pages. 9.25″ (h) x 7.5″ (w) x .25″ (d)

“Surviving Genocide: the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi”

By Susan Viguers & Lily Yeh

Published by Shandy Press & Barefoot Artists, 2017

The book and the project itself demonstrate the power of art in the service of healing, testimony and community.

Surviving Genocide immerses you in the stories of two Rwandans who as small children experienced the 1994 Genocide; it tells of the horrific tragedy each survived, the courage necessary for surviving, and the humanity they embody. Their stories are framed by two chapters chronicling the transformation, in the Rugerero Survivors’ Village, of a concrete burial slab into a powerful Genocide Memorial with its bone chamber, designed by Lily Yeh and built by the villagers. An essential theme of the book is the importance of the dead for the living, of honoring the dead, of remembrance. The book is not limited to the literature of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide; it belongs to the world as part of the collective human experience.

Surviving Genocide is not a conventional book; it evokes its world through images (photographs, drawings, paintings, pattern, and color) as well as words; the text itself is visually choreographed.

The material in the book stems from Lily Yeh’s multifaceted Rwandan Healing Project under the auspices of Barefoot Artists. That Project included, among other things, drawing and storytelling workshops, from which the book draws. Susan Viguers conceived and designed the book, incorporating drawings and paintings by Lily Yeh.

Lily is an internationally celebrated artist who, as founder and executive director of the Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia from 1968 to 2004, 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 in multiple countries (including Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Rwanda, China, Taiwan, Ecuador, Syria, Republic of Georgia, Haiti, Germany, Palestine, and the United States) through participatory, multifaceted projects.

For much of her life, Susan Viguers taught literature, directed the University Writing Program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and published scholarly articles, creative nonfiction and poetry. Her discovery of printmaking and book structure and her eventual move from the Liberal Arts Division to the university’s College of Art and Design was a radical late middle-age change. For nine years she directed the university’s MFA Book Arts/Printmaking program. Her artist books have been in numerous exhibitions and have been collected in over 50 public institution’s Special Collections.

For purchase contact: Susan Viguers/Shandy Press
Price: $40

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. 


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