• Joy
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Mosaic Tile

Lily Yeh is the co-founder of the Village of Arts and Humanities, located in an impoverished community in North Philadelphia.  Murals such as Joy are typical of the collaborative projects created by Yeh with neighborhood youth and adults. 

Born in China and trained in classical Chinese landscape painting, Yeh bases her designs on folk images of many cultures.  Lily Yeh’s mural Joy pays homage to the past and the heritage of the community.  In Joy, the dancers surrounding the central Mother Earth figure with her dazzling headdress represent an entire community, coming together in a healing celebration.  This central Mother Goddess figure is derived from a long-perished artwork that was originally created by the renowned Philadelphia-based artist Barbara Bullock.  This earlier mural was commissioned in the 1970s by Arthur Hall, who had also founded the celebrated Arthur Hall African American Dance ensemble.  The dancing figures in the mural preserved the memory of the past and celebrated Hall’s legacy.

The mosaic medium used in Joy holds symbolic significance for Lily Yeh and her work at the Village and for other disenfranchised communities in the world.  The mosaic, which brings together broken shards to create a new whole, represents the power of art in transforming community.  James Maxton, a remarkable community member, who transmuted himself from a drug addict to a well-established mosaic artist, executed the mosaic work.  Both Yeh and Maxton are grateful for the instruction and encouragement from the amazing mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar whose artwork is also a part of the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s art collection.

Overall, Joy serves as a testament to the spirit, creativity, and legacy of this inner-city North Philadelphia community from the mid-20th century to the future. Through art, it celebrates the community’s resilience and joy.

Commissioned by the Pennsylvania Convention Center in collaboration with the Village of Arts and Humanities (Philadelphia) and with technical assistance from Mosaic Applicator James Maxton

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