Dr. Lily Yeh
Founder and Artistic Director
2412 Waverly St. | Philadelphia, PA | 19146
At the beginning of the New Year, my heart is filled with gratitude for what we were able to accomplish with your continued support in 2013. And yet it was a year filled with deep suffering for so many people and places in the world. The earth and our humanity are calling out for healing. I believe that each of us has the power to change the world for the better if we are able to listen to the voice from our heart, and have the courage to respond to life's calling. When we let compassion guide our actions, transformation happens.
Let us be inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's words, "As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves." Let's remember Viktor Frankl's message, "The salvation of man is through love and in love.” May your New Year be filled with creativity, deep fulfillment, and joy.
We, GHA are very pleased your letter and happy to congratulate you with New Year! We wish you and your wonderful children's art organization - Barefoot Artist, which is represented on the GHA website here: www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=415, new achievements! You are long the GHA member but we do not get your information on our mailing list, although you included in it: firstname.lastname@example.org. We are waiting it through this address, in which more than 300 members of the GHA. This will help us to know better about your "revolutionary work" to change the world for the better, in the transition "from broken to whole" in harmony to bring improvement for poor communities and social change towards peace and prosperity, starting with children. GHA fully shares your great ideas and aspirations. In this regard, we are happy to invite you to participate in the new, revolutionary book of GHA devoted to Global Peace Science (GPS: www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=585 - it corresponds your revolutionary work). To do this, we invite you to write your article in 3-6 pages up to January 31 for one of the following topics:
1. Barefoot Artists: The Way to Global Peace through Children Art
2. The Barefoot Artists Activity as Realization of Children's Priority Principle in Global Peace Science. It is possible for you? Are you willing to write similar article that will be your great contribution to GPS? Thank you. I am also happy to recommend you for creative contacts and joint projects in Africa the GHA-Africa President from Ghana, teacher, poet and great peacemaker Ayo-Amale: www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=524, with who, I am sure, you will find a common language in peace from art children’s harmony, which will be heal the world.
You could make the theme "Peace from harmony" by theme of children's drawings, which we would be happy to publish in our new book, as we did like in the ABC Harmony for World Peace … (2012: www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=483 – Harmony Paintings). This book is also a great theme for your children's imagination in drawings and for publication in the book and on our website.
With love, best harmony wishes,
About Lily Yeh
From 1986 - 2004, Lily Yeh served as the co-founder, executive director, and lead artist of The Village of Arts and Humanities, a non-profit organization with the mission to build community through art, learning, land transformation and economic development. Under her leadership of 18 years, the summer park building project developed into an organization with 20 full-time and part-time employees, hundreds of volunteers, and a $1.3 million budget. The Village became a multi-faceted community building organization with activities such as after-school and weekend programs, greening land transformation, housing renovation, theater, and economic development initiatives. The center worked on local, national, and international projects, and was a leading model of community revitalizations throughout the country.
Yeh developed a unique methodology for using the arts as a tool for community building and personal transformation during her tenure at the Village. "Warrior Angel: The Work of Lily Yeh" by Bill Moskin and Jill Jackson, a paper on her methodology of using art to transform and build community, is available for download: http://www.barefootartists.org/Lilys_Warrior_Angel_11_2.pdf.
Barefoot Artists Mission:
Recognizing that creativity and beauty are powerful means to bring on healing and changes, Barefoot Artists works with poor communities around the glob practicing the arts to bring healing, self-improvement and social change.
My Very Dear Friends,
Happy New Year from Barefoot Artists!
Much has happened since our last newsletter. Although our budget is limited, we continue to be a transformational catalyst in the communities where we work through our innovative method in collaborating and leveraging the expertise and passion of our volunteers and partner organizations. In this newsletter, I want to share with you a few of the recent accomplishments in Rwanda and China. If it catches your interest, do visit our website for additional information on the many facets of Barefoot Artists programming.
Thank you for your interest and support for my presentation at the Fleisher Art Memorial in September. If you missed the presentation, on the Barefoot Artists website you can view a 25 minute video of a similar presentation at the recent Bioneers conference in San Rafael, CA. In the video I talk about our effort in building "compassionate living social sculptures" that lead to peace and a shared prosperity.
When you read about our projects below, please consider making a financial contribution to Barefoot Artists, Inc. to help us realize our mission in building community through the arts. Barefoot Artists Inc. is a 501 (C) (3) and tax exempt entity. Our unique volunteer-based structure allows us to keep overhead very small and to put most of our funding directly into project activities. Donations can be mailed to: 2412 Waverly Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19146.
Recognizing that creativity and beauty are potent means to bring about healing and change, Barefoot Artists uses the power of art to transform impoverished communities, to empower their residents and to take action for a more compassionate, just and sustainable future.
The Rwanda Healing Project
Solar Energy came to the Rugerero Survivors Village
Sponsored by a generous grant from International Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Barefoot Artists worked with Dr. Richard Komp, President of the Maine Solar Energy Association, to bring solar energy to the Rugerero Survivors Village in the spring of this year. During the three-week training period, Richard taught 50 some villagers how to design, fabricate, install and maintain solar electric home systems to bring power and light to their community. Earning their "solar engineer" certificates, 37 members formed a cooperative, which they named Radiant Horizon. They aim to turn it into a cottage industry in the near future to generate income and to produce clean energy for Rwanda.
At the end of the workshop session, the group has built seven solar battery chargers, a cell-phone charger, seven 60 watt PV modules. They installed solar powered panels to four homes and four cooperatives in the village including the sunflower seed oil production, sewing for 24 orphaned young women, basket weaving for older women, and Radiant Horizon. They also repaired a PV system for the health clinic near the survivors village. The clinic serves the medical needs of the people in the whole Rubavu district.
Richard returned to Rugerero Village in November to continue his work with Radiant Horizon. In addition to making more solar panels for homes in the village, he taught the group how to make solar cookers and how to cook in them properly.
University of Florida Center for the Arts in Healthcare Residency
Working with Jean Bosco Musana, Red Cross Regional Director and Barefoot Artists Rwandan Projects Coordinator, the University of Florida Center for the Arts in Healthcare (CAHRE) brought its Africa Initiative to Rwanda. In early March of 2009, a team of 6 healthcare professionals from CAHRE (including nurses, nurse-midwives, and a physician) took residence for 20 days. The team provided "tandem healthcare services and on-the-job health education and training at the Rugerero Health Center, while the hospital artists offered arts services to patients, family members, and caregivers." CAHRE also brought a team of eight UF graduate-level theatre majors to Rwanda for a 10 day residency. The students taught and used playback theatre techniques to encourage villagers to share their stories and to shape them into theatrical works that would serve to honor and preserve the experiences of the residents. Each member of the CAHRE team carried 100 pounds of medical and art supplies which they donated to various designations in the Gisenyi and Rugerero areas.
Rugerero Elementary School Renovations and Sculpture Garden
Over the past year, much progress was made in the renovation of the Rugerero Elementary School. With the help of local contractors and masons and the generous financial support from the Compton Foundation and New Path Foundation, Barefoot Artists renovated two classroom buildings and constructed a seven-foot wall around the front half of the school property. The new roof on the four classroom school building includes thick transparent corrugated sheets to allow for natural lighting since there is no electricity in the school. Responding to the request of Principal Ntamwete Hasha the new wall around the school provides security and prevents students from running into the high-speed motorway in front of the schoolyard. The wall echoes the rhythm of the elegant walls surrounding the adjacent Rugerero Genocide Memorial.
A significant project at the school was the creation of a sculpture garden with carved figures and painted wooden poles that celebrates the importance of family. Working with art teacher Mutabazi Fabrice and sculptor Hagumimana Jules, Lily Yeh set up a co-creative process through which hundreds of children in the Rugerero School participated in the design and painting of the wooden poles which masons then installed into the sculpture garden on campus. The three statues consist of mother and child, sister and little brother, and a man with two heads, one looking up asking "why?" while the other looks downward in an expression of forgiveness and reconciliation.
In response to the children's excitement about the sculptures, Barefoot Artists now sponsors wood carving workshops for children taught by Hagumoimana on Saturdays.
"The beauty of the art garden is pure magic. Everyone who sees it is touched by its message. Art is important to the well being of our soul."
-Jean Bosco Musana
The Rwandan Dream Flags came to Philadelphia
The Philadelphia-based Dream Flag Project aims to connect students to their dreams and connect their dreams to the world, through writing poetry, creating art, and through the words of Langston Hughes, "Bring me all of your dreams, you dreamers."
Collaborating with the Dream Flag Project, and with the help of Rubasingwa Felix and Alice Manirambona, Barefoot Artists was able to bring the Dream Flag Project to the children at the Rugerero School and the Survivors Village. In April, many beautiful Rwandan dream flags were displayed at the International Dream Flag Festival at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.
Although the school and the village are lacking in their facilities and material resources, they are blessed by the enthusiasm and creativity in the children.
"A grateful soul whispers this
From wilderness you brought me
And in a garden of peace you rested me
I see brooks of love and hear melodies of stillness
A silent love you poured,
a hushed fountain you spread
A perfume of tenderness I breathe,
a song of gratitude I sing."
- Byiningiro Esunayine
Children making dream flags in Rugerero school and survivors village.
The Dandelion School Project:
Continuing the Transformation
The Dream Alley Project- Turning students' work into public art
At the back portion of the school campus, a narrow alleyway framed by two blank concrete walls connects the middle and back courtyards. Daily, hundreds of teachers and students pass through this tight corridor numerous times. Sponsored by ArtVenture (now ArtAction) and with donations from Maple Shade High School in New Jersey, Barefoot Artists worked with teachers and students to transform the dark alley into a colorful walkway filled with mirrors and mosaics. Most of the images on the alley wall came from artwork created by students.
Yeh has always believed that creativity and art generate resources. Barefoot Artists has helped Dandelion School to realize its potential through the creativity of its students in making art that is true and reflective of their lives through the four-year Dandelion School Transformation Project. Currently, supported by Ben Ng, an insightful and innovative social entrepreneur, Dandelion has put together a crafts production team, including designer Ji Ping Zhang, who turns Dandelion public art pieces into beautiful craft prototypes. Dandelion's Creative Crafts Studio then turns the prototypes into beautiful products for the general market.
"Our goal is to produce marketable products, which can then be sold for profitable returns that will all be used to benefit the school."
- Principal Zheng Hong
Sharing the methodology in Miangyang, Sichuan
On May 12, 2008, the Great Sichuan Earthquake killed at least 68,000 people. While working in Beijing, Yeh heard that teachers in the earthquake region are now suffering post-traumatic stress symptoms as 90% of surviving teachers had lost their family members. Moved by the situation, Yeh decided to visit the earthquake region in Sichuan. She was hosted by the department of art education in Mianyang, a mid-sized city located near the epicenter of the earthquake. The city organized a two-day conference for 300 art teachers who came from the surrounding counties and villages. Yeh presented her work on healing and rebuilding communities through art with the hope that it would help the art teachers to understand their own power and potential.
Afterwards, Yeh offered a hands-on workshop. She had hoped for a more intimate and reflective workshop on painting personal stories. The number of the teachers made it impossible. Instead, something wonderful happened. This large group of teachers picked up ink and brushes, and painted whatever they felt like on a long piece of fabric lying on the floor. Within an hour, they had created hundreds of yards of painting. They lifted the paint-soaked canvas and marched toward the huge open space on campus. The process brought people together in a ritual-like movement finalized by the taking of group photos. Instead of sharing sorrows, we celebrated life and creativity together.
We are deeply grateful to the generous grants and donations from ArtAction, Bioneers Youth Council, Heavenly Bright, The Compton Foundation, IEEE Foundation, New Path Foundation, The Elizabeth B. and Arthur E. Roswell Foundation, Margaret Evans Tuten Foundation, St. Thomas of Villanova Church, Aperture Pictures, Maple Shade High School, KJK Associates, Yeh family Grant, and numerous individuals.
We could not have accomplished so much without your understanding and support.
Find more information about Barefoot Artists online at www.barefootartists.org
Donations can be mailed to: 2412 Waverly Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19146
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The official registration and financial information of Barefoot Artists, Inc. may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1.800.732.0999.
Registration does not imply endorsement.