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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

L.A. Street Artist Lydia Emily Keeps Painting Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Other Obstacles


By  

Mon, May 19, 2014

A work by Lydia Emily on South San Pedro and East Fifth Streets - COURTESY OF LYDIA EMILY
  • Courtesy of Lydia Emily
  • A work by Lydia Emily on South San Pedro and East Fifth Streets
Thousands of people without homes line Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles in worn tents, dirt-covered rags and cardboard boxes. On South San Pedro and East Fifth Streets, next to a liquor store, a mural glows in vibrant contrast to the surrounding depression. A majestic Masai tribeswoman in a rainbow of embroidery gazes towards a bright yellow sign: "Peace is Yours."

Last year, artist Lydia Emily came into this despondent neighborhood with paint, a ladder and compassion. Her goal: to bring something beautiful to a neglected corner. It was a seemingly simple good deed, but in Emily's world nothing is simple.

She was accosted and ultimately chased out by homeless people who felt their turf was being exploited by an outsider. 
"We were getting grotesque insults thrown at us," says Emily's assistant Lindsay Carron, "And for what? Because we're two white women with paint brushes?" 

The threats were violent, but Emily wasn't deterred. She invited the homeless people living on the block to collaborate with her, opened up a conversation with them about what they wanted to see on the wall and, ultimately, the project became a source of pride for the community.

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