1959 – 1963 B.A. National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
1956 – 1963 Studied Classical Chinese painting in Taiwan
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE 1966 – 1968 Instructor of Art History, West Chester College, West Chester, PA 1968 – 1998 Assistant Professor to tenured Professor, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Taught courses in art history, painting and drawing in the departments of Liberal Arts, Painting and Foundation.
1986 – 2004 Founder, Executive & Artistic Director, and Lead Artist, The Village of Arts and Humanities, North Philadelphia, PA
Yeh developed The Village of Arts and Humanities, which began as a simple park-building project involving neighborhood children, into a private, nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to neighborhood revitalization through the arts. By 2004, the Village had become a highly professional organization with an annual budget of $1.3 million and a dedicated staff of sixteen full-time and ten part-time employees including a four-person construction crew. During the last decade of her sojourn, the organization has yearly served over 10,000 low-income, primarily African-American youth and families, covering several neighborhoods within a 260 square block area in North Philadelphia.
The Village received many national awards including the Coming Up Taller Award from the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C. in 2000 and the gold medal Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence from the Bruner Foundation in Cambridge, MA in 2001. In 2003, the Village received a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence. In 2007, The Village received the prestigious Champion in Action from Citizens Bank for its building community through the arts effort since 1986.
2001 – 2004 Unimaginable Isolation: Stories from Graterford Prison
Collaborating with artists Gerry Givnish and Glenn Holsten, Yeh launched a three-year, multi-leveled interactive project that aimed to reveal the depth of humanity of long-term inmates in the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. The effort resulted in several city wide multi-media exhibitions, which were presented at Eastern State Penitentiary, the University of the Arts, the Painted Bride Art Center, and the Village of Arts and Humanities.
2004 – 2005 The Distinguished Artist in Residence at the University of Delaware
Worked with University of Delaware faculty, students and community members in the area, Yeh led the design and development of a mosaic monument to commemorate the history of the Newark's African American community that one time lived in the University neighborhood.
2002 – present Founding Director, Barefoot Artists, Inc.
Developed Barefoot Artists to bring the transformative power of art to impoverished communities in the world through participatory and multifaceted projects that foster community empowerment, improve the physical environment, promote economic development, and preserve and advance indigenous art and culture.
1993 – 2007 Kenya – The Community Transformation Project in Korogocho, Nairobi
Supported by Lila Wallace Arts International Fellowship in 1993-94, Yeh took on a grassroots land transformation project in Korogocho, Kenya. Situated right next to a city dump, Korogocho, a community of 150,000, is one of the worst slums in Nairobi. Collaborating with her hosts, Paa Ya Paa Art Center and St. John’s Catholic Church, Yeh organized children and adults in the community to convert a bleak and dusty churchyard standing on the edge of the dumpsite into a brightly painted garden of huge angels and flowers. Through her effort, the Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia collaborated with several artists from Korogocho and Nairobi in late 90s. In addition, the Village sponsored a two-year arts program for 200 street children in Korogocho. In 2004, collaborating with Life Learning group in the community, Yeh conducted workshops for hundreds of youth in their HIV/AIDS prevention program in Korogocho and its five adjacent communities. Returning in 2007 and collaborating with community social workers, she led art and mural painting workshops for street and addicted glue-sniffing children.
1998 Ivory Coast – The Niemassou Art Project
Yeh and German Wilson, theater artist/director, worked together to conduct painting and performance workshops at Niemassou, a tiny rural village outside of Odienne in the Northwest corner of Ivory Coast.
1999 The Republic of Georgia - The Dzegvi Children’s Project, Tblisi
Collaborating with filmmaker Glenn Holsten and photographer Daniel Traub, Yeh traveled to Dzegvi, a little village containing twenty families and 110 street children, to conduct workshops with children in drawing, painting and photography. Children and several family groups took photos of each other, their activities and environment. At the end of the project, an exhibition of 15 big, life size banners of individual and group figures and hundreds of the photos were exhibited at Dzegvi. The project also produced a 12 minutes film describing Dzegvi community through the eyes of one particular family.
2000 Ecuador – Art projects in Salinas and Ambato
Traveled to Ecuador with artist Andres Chamorro to conduct workshops in visual and performing arts for youths and adults from many different communities in the highlands of Ecuador, including Quito, Salinas, and Ambato. In addition, they created a beautiful “Tree of Life” mural for the Ambato Special School for handicapped children.
2002 Ghana – Jamestown public square transformation project, Accra
Traveling to Accra, Ghana, Yeh collaborated with educator Heidi Owu and community leaders to carry out a land transformation project in an impoverished neighborhood in Jamestown, located in the old section of the capital city Accra. The project engaged hundreds of children and adults in transforming a bleak courtyard into a public space full of patterns and colors.
1984 – 2005 China – Speaking tour, cultural exchange program, folk art research, workshops
Invited by the Chinese Cultural Ministry during the 80’s, Yeh conducted lecture tours in twelve cities including Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing, Hongzhou, Shouzhou, Wuhan, and Uramchi. In 1984, she assisted the city of Philadelphia in establishing a multi-leveled cultural exchange program with its sister city Tianjin in China. In 1986, as a visiting artist, she presented a series of lectures in Lhasa, Tibet. In 1987, she participated in the renowned Yellow River Region Folk Art Expedition conducted by the Central Institute of Fine Arts in Beijing. In 2003, returned to China and conducted art workshops with the students in a remote village 2 hours north of Beijing. In 2004, returned to Beijing to work with senior citizens, and also led a mural painting project involving numerous youth and adults at Xin Chih Elementary School for children of migrant workers
2004 – 2005 Taiwan – The Chi Chong School Mosaic Mural Project, Taipei
Invited by The Culture Ministry of Taipei to participate in its Public Art Forum and Festival, Yeh was commissioned to create a mural for a five-story building located in Chi Chong School for handicapped and hearing-impaired children. Engaging art teachers and students in the design process, Yeh incorporated many of the images emerged from the art workshops in her design for the mural. The curator of the project mobilized the Chi Chong school community, a tile making factory and volunteers from all sectors of life to participate in the making of the mural. Over 400 people from different cities in Taiwan took part in the project, which was among the top nominees for a prestigious 2005 public art award in Taiwan.
2005 American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, MD, Guest Curator
Yeh introduced and curated the wall-sized papercut pieces by the late Chinese folk artist Ku Shu-Lan in the exhibition Race, Class, Gender ≠ Character at AVAM. Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, Director and Founder of the Museum dedicated its 11th mega-exhibition to Lily Yeh because “her work so artfully and lovingly transcends race, class, nationality and gender.”
2004 – present The Rwanda Healing Project – the construction of the Rugerero Genocide Memorial and the healing and vitalization of the Rugerero Survivors Village, Gisenyi
Launched the Rwanda Healing Project in 2004 under the auspices of Barefoot Artists, Inc. The project consists of two simultaneous and complimentary programs in Rubavu District, West Rwanda : 1) The Genocide Memorial brings beauty in its design and construction to honor the memory of the dead and provides a home for the bones of genocide victims. 2) The Rugerero Survivors Village Transformation honors the living by equipping surviving family members with economic resources and tools to heal, learn skills, and take actions to better their lives.