This lyrical and emotionally wrenching film explores the methods and motivations of artist Lily Yeh and her revolutionary work. It documents the two sides of Lily’s life: her international ventures mending the broken and helping to heal weakened spirits in communities in North America, Africa, China, and India, and a personal journey within, to repair her own fractured family.
The Barefoot Artist is the definitive telling of Lily Yeh’s story in film. It will trace her evolution as an artist—from her first exposure to Chinese landscape painting as a young girl in China to the hauntingly beautiful memorial she designed to honor the victims of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. It will show her methodology for community building—using art as the foundation—which she has developed over many years as she has worked in impoverished communities around the world. It will showcase her remarkable artistry and talent in terms of the physical spaces she has transformed. It will show the power of her work in terms of the lives she has touched. Finally, it will reveal the source of her quest, and the personal costs of a life committed to the public.
The Barefoot Artist will show Lily working with children in a challenged North Philadelphia community, with the survivors in the post-genocide villages of Rwanda, working with drug addicted youths along the garbage dumps of shanty towns on the outskirts of Nairobi, rummaging through trash heaps in a migrant neighborhood of Beijing—all the while using an artist’s hand, an artist’s eye, an artist’s mind, and an artist’s heart.