Discovering the Diplomacy Art Exhibition

Artwork from the Diplomacy exhibition showcased in the Yeh Art Gallery in Sun Yat Sen Hall.

Artwork from the Diplomacy exhibition showcased in the Yeh Art Gallery in Sun Yat Sen Hall.

The Dr. M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery has been an integral part of the St. John’s community since 1994. It is located in the traditional gem of a building known as Sun Yat Sen Hall, built in 1973. The recently renovated gallery houses interdisciplinary artwork –– incorporating history and design with art –– made by NYC artists to create a dynamic learning environment. This semester, the art displayed is inspired by the Sun Yat Sen building itself, whether it be its history or the architectural nuances engraved in the intricate ceramic roof.  


Here is a sneak peak of a few of the gallery’s pieces that I saw during my tour of the gallery:

  1. Triangle 

At first glance, this giant sculpture resembles a life-size jenga game, but it has a deeper story than that. Artist Christopher K. Ho designed this site-specific wood piece model with previous President Nixon’s Christmas Tree in mind. Maybe the red and green painted logs give it away, or the 45º angled edges stacked upon each other giving me the impression of a lopsided Christmas tree. You might be thinking why Christmas?

Well, Christopher researched the history of Sun Yat Sen, and in December of 1973, President Nixon met with Mao Ze Dong in China which changed China-US relations. Also, since Christmas is in December, Christopher built a wooden Christmas sculpture inspired by the 1973 White House Christmas tree. I bet you didn’t think of that when you saw the model!

  1. Slavic Dilemma 

I was confused when Duffy asked for the lights to be shut off before he presented the next ceramic display. All I could see in the dark was the top of the mini sculpture (in comparison to the wooden one above) glowing in a dim, extremely soothing color. Shahpour Pouyan, an Iranian artist, took inspiration from the Lighthouse of Alex, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, built around 250 B.C. in Egypt.

The model incorporates a hybrid of architectural styles –– traditional and Brutalist (plain, block-like structures such as the Career Service Center Building) –– to reflect the traditional roof of Sun Yat Sen Hall and its modern and simple brick siding. The pedestal that raises the  lighthouse-shaped model has a desk protruding from it, filled with blue cloth to symbolize water. 

  1. Untitled Folding Object

This stretch of 57 linked pieces of oak snakes from one wall of the gallery to another climbs up one wall and pokes its head out on the other side. Designed by Israeli artist Reuven Israel, this site-specific model features an architectural facet of the traditional Sun Yat Sen ceramic roof. If you take a moment to examine the roof beyond the aged brown tiles, you will notice a pipe-like structure running across the top from one edge to another.

The artist literally recreated this distinctive feature inside the gallery with a twist, Israel added a loop in the center before continuing the sculpture up the wall. The oak pieces are painted white, which gradually turns to pink and then to white again, using automotive paint to retain the luster and pigment. 

Diverse NYC artists are chosen for every exhibition showcased in the gallery. Their work guides students, art-enthusiasts and anyone who pauses to appreciate their intensity to view the world in a new light and engage in meaningful conversations.