Available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book (also exam or desk copies for instructors) through our distributor NYU Press.
Lily Yeh is an acclaimed visual artist who has worked with students, community leaders and teachers in Canada, China, Ecuador, Ghana, Kenya, Syria, Italy and in cities and neighborhoods across the United States. Yeh is considered one of America's most innovative urban designers and social pioneers. Awakening Creativity is her first, much-awaited book.
In Awakening Creativity, Yeh facilitates the art-making process for students of The Dandelion School, the only nonprofit organization in Beijing that serves the children of poor migrant workers coming from 24 provinces. Yeh worked with hundreds of students, teachers, volunteers and workers to transform the school's main campus with mural painting, mosaics, and environmental sculpture. Students were involved in every aspect of the art-making, which has become central to the school's curriculum and well-being.
Lily Yeh founded Barefoot Artists, a volunteer organization that uses the power of art to revitalize impoverished communities. Yeh is also the co-founder and former director of The Village of Arts and Humanities that has brought to life over 200 abandoned lots in the most distressed districts of North Philadelphia.
Creativity in Play
Nov 10, 2011
We'll explore with artist, educator, and activist Lily Yeh her work with Barefoot Artists, Inc., to bring the transformative power of art to impoverished communities around the globe through participatory, multifaceted projects that foster community empowerment, improve the physical environment, promote economic development and preserve indigenous art and culture. We'll talk about her new book, Awakening Creativity
, about her work with the Dandelion School for children of migrant workers in Beijing, where she engages students in artmaking to transform a rundown factory into a vibrant school and community center.
- Steven Dahlberg and Mary Alice Long
, Creativity in Play
is a radical manifesto for social change through art. Lily Yeh is a transformational artist. Yes, she employs pencils, paper, paints and paintbrushes and all manner of objects to create her world-welcoming mosaics. But the art Lily Yeh is most interested in is the art of living. She is a builder, an organizer, an alchemist, and a healer who is drawn to the broken places on the planet from Rwanda to Haiti to her own ancestral home in China. It is here in the open wounds of the world that she finds what is beautiful through the inspiration of those who live there; human beings reaching through the pain of poverty and war to create art which creates joy which is why first and foremost, Lily Yeh is a peacemaker. Follow her work and you will follow the path of transformation. She is a global angel who not only believes in the power of people engaged, but inspires and ignites them through her own creative fire. Lily Yeh changed my life completely and if you read this book, your life as you know it will begin to change, as well, through the vibrancy of art in action called love.
- Terry Tempest Williams
Lily Yeh talks with David Kupfer about her art, her activism, and of course, her new book. See an excerpt below or read the entire interview.
My work engages people, whose participation ensures its sustainability. This is why I call my art living social sculpture. It usually begins with making art with people; it then expands to include other activities such as storytelling, education, construction, and economic initiatives. The living fabrics of communities become the canvas of my work, creativity its fuel, people's talent and imagination its palette and tools. In the poor communities where I have worked, this process often leads to an improved environment, a better quality life, and a sense of joy and hope for the future.
I feel that it is a privilege for me to work with people who have experienced a lot in life and want to share their stories. In the broken communities I work, people usually do not have much training in the visual art...When the storytellers have no existing forms or formulas, they have to struggle to find the right images to express their emotions. This is when the visual images become authentic and charged with meaning. When people find the right images to express their experiences, they feel a sense of joy and accomplishment. For me, working with people in this process keeps me in contact with the fountainhead of creativity. It is a blessing.
- David Kupfer