Group Exhibition
Sept 23, 2019 – Nov 27, 2019

Diplomacy is an exhibition dedicated to an iconic St. John’s University landmark: Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, featuring the works of Christopher K. Ho, Lena Henke, Shahpour Pouyan, Reuven Israel, Alex Hayden, Carla Edwards, Anton Ginzburg, Ryan Flores, Hai-Hsin Huang, Claudia Martínez Garay, and Claudia Peña Salinas

On September 6, 1973, the pagoda-like building, which was to house a new center for Asian Studies, opened its doors to students. The center’s founder, Dr. Paul K.T. Sih, then proudly claimed in The New York Times that Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall was “the first building of its kind out of China to incorporate traditional Oriental architecture.” Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall has since become a postmodern landmark on the campus of St. John’s University, with its gleaming marble porch, brick walls, and golden tile roof imported from Taiwan. Named in honor of Sun Yat-sen, a revolutionary and statesman who fought for the unification of modern China (China’s “George Washington” Dr. Sih advised the Times), this historical backdrop frames the building as a form of soft power, a potent cultural symbol of, to quote Dr. Sih, “freedom, independence, and democracy.”

This geopolitcally complicated building—and its remarkable context—becomes a generative point of departure for Diplomacy. The artists in this exhibition engage with the themes of soft power, diplomacy, and national identity, or have created site-sensitive works or installations that respond to the building and its history.

Diplomacy is organized by Owen Duffy, Director of the Yeh Art Gallery with the support of Gallery Associate Cassandra Post.