Lily Yeh is a global artist who is fueled by a belief that art is a human right, and that artists can create a foundation for profound social change. Slight of frame, but large in spirit and vision, the 70-year-old artist was born in China, lives in Philadelphia, and now, as constant traveler, the world is her canvas. The Barefoot Artist explores two sides of Lily’s life that are connected parts of the same journey: her international ventures 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. To embrace the latter, Lily embarks on a trip to China to trace her father’s life, in hopes of resolving life-long guilt that was passed from father to daughter. The Barefoot Artist traces Lily’s 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 shows 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. Finally, it reveals the source of her quest, and the personal costs of a life committed to the public. Co-directors Glenn Holsten and Lily’s son Daniel Traub stop by Film School to talk about the life and times of a remarkable artist and healer.
“”The Barefoot Artist” is an engaging portrait of Lily Yeh, a Chinese emigre to the U.S. who has made her major imprint creating collaborative art with residents in areas torn by war, poverty and other hardships.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
“A remarkably restrained and intuitively beautiful portrait of the relationship between art, its audience and the sadness of both its inspiration and its creator.” – Daniel Walber, Nonfics
“A poignant documentary about the transformative power of art.” – Michael Rechtshaffe, Los Angeles