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The Barefoot Artist

October 23, 2014

Lily Yeh is a global artist who is fueled by the belief that artists can create a foundation for profound social change. In a new film co-directed by the talented Philadelphia documentarian Glenn Holsten, Yeh’s evolution and work as an artist is traced alongside a compelling personal journey to repair her fractured family. On October 23 at 7:00pm, the Drexel Arts Administration Graduate Association will host a free and open-to-the-public screening of THE BAREFOOT ARTIST in the URBN Annex Screening Room (3401 Filbert Street). A pre-screening reception will be held from 6:00pm to 7:00pm in the URBN Annex lobby, with check-in beginning at 6:00pm. Tickets are limited, so please click here to reserve a seat.

A 73-year-old artist born in China, Lily Yeh cofounded the Village of Arts & Humanities in North Philadelphia in 1989, and since then has traveled the world to bring art to broken and impoverished communities. THE BAREFOOT ARTIST weaves archival footage of her work in North Philadelphia and Korogocho, Nairobi, with new footage of her work in Rwanda, Beijing and India.

Not only does the film explore Lily’s awe-inspiring public art and international community building, but it traces her evolution as an artist and as a person through the lens of those close to her: longtime friend Glenn Holsten, who has documented Lily’s work since the 1990s; and Daniel Traub, Lily’s son and an award-winning cinematographer. The film follows her journey from a child in Taiwan to her life as an artist and professor in Philadelphia, to a trip to China to trace her father’s life in hopes of resolving lifelong guilt. Ultimately, it reveals the source of her quest and the personal costs of a life committed to the public. Click to watch the trailer.

Glenn Holsten first began documenting Lily Yeh’s work in the 1990s, when he was a producer at WHYY TV12 and made several short films about the Village of Arts & Humanities. He directed AN ANGEL IN THE VILLAGE, a portrait of Lily Yeh’s work in North Philadelphia and Korogocho, Nairobi. He also worked with Lily on a three-year project with inmates at Graterford Prison.

Prior to THE BAREFOOT ARTIST, Holsten collaborated with Daniel Traub on OC87: The Obsessive-Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie, a documentary about recovery from the depths of mental illness through filmmaking. Traub, who shot and directed THE BAREFOOT ARTIST, is a documentary cinematographer and widely-published still photographer.