Ivy Leaf - Spring 2002
"The irony of life is that to accomplish something simple, it often requires us to go through a complicated process. It took me 20 years to find it. I was trying to find a way to become a meaningful citizen. And for me, being an artist is not just about creating art, it is a way of life. It is about doing the right thing without sparing one's self. For you, it may be other areas, but for me, it was art."
Ms. Lily Yeh is the founder, executive director, and lead artist for the Village of Arts and Humanities, a private nonprofit community-based organization dedicated to neighborhood revitalization through the arts.
What began in 1986 as a simple park building project involving neighborhood children, the Village has grown into a major provider of art-inspired programs in learning, land transformation, construction, and economic development. While thoroughly rooted in the very low-income community it currently serves, the Village has been recognized both locally and nationally as a successful model for engaging residents, especially youth, in the process of rebuilding their community.
Ms. Yeh has received numerous awards and recognitions for her outstanding contributions in art and community redevelopment. These recognitions include honorary doctorates from the University of Massachusetts, the University of the Arts, and the Massachusetts College of Art. She received the 2001 Tikun Olum Healing the World Award; the 2001 Award of Recognition by the Office of Juvenile Justice Development; the 2000 Coming Up Taller Award, bestowed by the National Endowment of the Arts; the 2000 Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Arts and Leadership; the 1998 Pan Asian Association of Greater Philadelphia Award; the 1995 Pennsylvania Commission on Human Relations Human Rights Award for Arts and Culture; and 1994 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship.
Ms. Yeh received a Bachelor of Arts and Literature in 1963 from the National Taiwan University and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966.
Ms. Yeh believes that professionals need to go into their neighborhoods, not with the attitude that they are going to come in and take things over, because they know more; they need to learn the art of listening.