Art, Beauty and Healing

“Indeed, the subtle touches of beauty are what enable most people to survive. Yet beauty is so quietly woven through our ordinary days that we hardly notice it. Everywhere there is tenderness, care and kindness, there is beauty.”  John O’Donahue


For thirty years, Lily Yeh was a professor of painting and art history at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts.  During that time, she took on an initiative that transformed an abandoned lot in inner-city north Philadelphia into an art park. The park blossomed into the Village of Arts and Humanities— a non-profit organization with the mission to build community through a celebration of art, educational programs, land transformation and economic development.

“I want to light up other people’s pilot lights so that we shine together. Everyone has creativity – it’s a gift to us as human being, and I want people to realize that innate light and creativity,” says Yeh. “In art there is no failure if we are sincere in our intention. What comes out is always good. So it’s a wonderful healing tool in wounded places and for wounded people and for bringing hope and joy in these places.”

With that in mind, in 2002 Yeh founded Barefoot Artists, a volunteer organization with few encumbrances of staff and overhead.  Barefoot Artists brings the transformative and healing power of art to the most impoverished and devastated communities in the world through participatory and multifaceted projects that foster community empowerment, improve the physical environment, promote economic development, and preserve and support indigenous art and culture.

Barefoot Artists draws inspiration from world art and culture, but each project is tailored to the unique needs and characteristics of that community and includes local artists and craftspeople.

For more information on Barefoot Artists and its founder, descriptions of projects in places such as Haiti, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, click http://barefootartists.org/about/#sthash.oyj0vCoU.dpuf

Note  Barefoot Artists are among the many, many people throughout the world whose compassion brings blessings to the less fortunate through tangible acts of love and service.  Thank you and bless you  as you nurse the sick and wounded, fill  empty stomachs, educate young minds, help protect the defenseless, rebuild communities,  and nourish souls (including our own) with beauty – be it words, music, or art. You are beautiful!

In the sixth century, Dionysius declared Beauty to be a name for God. But now-a-days one seldom hears God or the Divine referred to in this way – more common are attributes such as Love, Life, Truth, Mind, The Infinite, Everlasting, Spirit, etc.

And yet, Beauty is all around us if we just look for it. Even in places devastated by forest fires or volcanic eruptions, slowly new growth appears. In conflict zones, where, to quote Bishop Desmond Tutu, “for each act of hatred that makes the news, a dozen of acts of goodness go unseen in our world.”  In jails whenever an inmate chooses love over anger or resentment.  In the wild where animals have much to teach us -- to name a few.  

“Mother Teresa was a master at this.  As she walked  down the streets of Calcutta, India she would see dead bodies on the street and decay in the gutters.  In the dung in the gutter of the streets in Calcutta, she would find a flower growing.  And, in that flower, she would find beauty in the streets.  That experience allowed her the strength to find even more beauty in life.

Let’s look for the beauty seen through the eyes of the heart!   Namaste -- “the divine Beauty in me acknowledges the divine Beauty in you”

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