On Walls, Cultural Resistance and the Artistry of Lily Yeh

Founded 15 years ago by Lily Yeh, Barefoot Artists is an organization that “travels to impoverished or traumatized communities and brings art as a means of healing and transformation. Part visual art, part community building, bonding, and mobilizing, it is a process [Yeh] describes as a living social sculpture. Yeh passionately believes in the power of communities to embrace their suffering and transcend it through creativity and beauty, a sort of alchemical transformation that can diffuse the heavy weight of living under oppression, persecution, or war.” In this piece, the author accompanies Yeh and her team to the West Bank, where two walls are being transformed. In ancient villages bearing many scars from conflict, she discovers the spirit of children, of community, and of Yeh — whose art transcends the pain of the past, creates beauty for the future, and celebrates the hearts of humans, no matter what side of the wall they live on.

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