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Andrea Coronil and Gao Yuan: On Riding Waves, Tattoos, and Uncanny Connections to Taiwan House 7b Ep 260

By Felicia Lin

This is an episode about coincidences connected with the Taiwanese American Arts Council’s house, building 7B on New York’s Governors Island, which has affectionately come to be called the Taiwan house. The Taiwanese American Arts Council was selected to be an organization in residence on Governors Island this year from May to October and was also the only Asian organization on Governors Island this past year. In this episode I’ll be speaking with Andrea Coronil and Gao Yuan two of the many artists in residence at the Taiwan house.

First, we’ll hear from artist Andrea Coronil about the concept behind her exhibit “To Ride the Waves of Turtle Island” and how she didn’t realize its connection to Taiwan.

Next, we’ll hear from photographer, filmmaker Gao Yuan about her short film Between Us which deals with the conflict between the indigenous and Hakka in southern Taiwan, and also how Gao Yuan uncovered a surprising connection to Taiwan that actually came knocking on the door of TAAC house, building 7B.

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • How Andrea came up with the concept of her solo show at the Taiwan House, To Ride the Waves of Turtle Island
  • The Turtle Island aka La Tortuga of Venezuela
  • Turtle Island the name for North America used by some indigenous peoples and the creation story that the Lenape and Ojibwe have that involves a turtle
  • Taiwan’s Turtle Island
  • Pearls and oysters, and their connection to the Caribbean and Governors Island
  • Andrea’s connection to Venezuela
  • What “riding the waves” means to Andrea
  • Andrea’s artwork titled “We Wore Pearls First”
  • Andrea’s painting titled “We Took Refuge in the Mountains” and Berta Cáceres
  • How Gao Yuan got into photography
  • The significance of the river in Gao Yuan’s short film Between Us
  • Gao Yuan’s approach to photography and filmmaking
  • How Gao Yuan started photographing people with tattoos
  • How many of the tattooed people Gao Yuan photographed in Taiwan were part of the mafia or considered gangsters
  • How Gao Yuan met Commander Douglas Stevenson who previously lived at the Taiwan house (Building 7B) with his family and his connection to Taiwan
  • The short documentary film the Gao Yuan made about the Douglas Stevenson Family


Related Links:


Turtle Island (of Taiwan):


Governors Island history:


Turtle Island (Indigenous North American folklore) and the Lenape:


La Tortuga (The Turtle Island of Venezuela):


Billion Oyster Project | Governors Island:


Girl With A Pearl Earring, painting by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer:




On Lenape history:

Local indigenous food sources:

Local legacy of oysters:

NYT article, gives an overview of the early Dutch colonial misadventures/arrival into the region, the Lenape, and oysters:

Article on archeological research of early colonial pearl extraction and trade from Venezuelan islands:






Berta Cáceres:


Andrea Coronil:


Andrea Coronil on Instagram:


Andrea’s artwork:

Gao Yuan on Instagram:


Gao Yuan on Facebook:


Between Us:


Paiwan people:




海洋, 刺青與吧檯 Ocean, tattoo, and bar:


The Douglas Stevenson Family (short documentary by Gao Yuan):


President Reagan Meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev at Governors Island on December 7, 1988:


Reagan, Gorbachev and Bush at Governors Island:


Taiwanese American Arts Council: From “Island to Island” on Governors Island (Episode 249):


NYC ART BRIDGE: How TAAC and CHATogether are Winning at Achieving Emotional Wellness Through Art (Episode 258):

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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