The Fallen Star: Art and Culture Collide at UC San Diego

fallen star uc san diego
Korean artist Do Ho Suh’s Fallen Star at UC San Diego is an artistic and cultural experience like no other.

From afar, Fallen Star seems to have been uprooted by a tornado, like a scene from The Wizard of Oz, and crash-landed on the 7th floor of the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. Fallen Star is part of the university’s remarkable Stuart Collection. It is comprised of an off-kilter blue cottage and the small garden that surrounds it.

Adapting to Change

Suh moved from South Korea to the United States in the early ’90’s, where he attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Upon arrival, Suh struggled with adapting to his new environment. In an exchange with Stuart Collection director Mary Beebe, the artist said that his arrival in the United States made him feel “like he had been dropped from the sky.” Suh soon began to incorporate the themes of migration, displacement, and change into his artwork, and Fallen Star is exemplary of those themes.

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Finding Comfort in Chaos

The structure is a slightly smaller replica of a cottage that is close to where the artist went to school in Providence, R.I. Suh’s intricate attention to detail is visible in the interior of the house, which consists of only a living room space and the accompanying furnishings.

Fallen Star was cantilevered onto the Jacobs School of Engineering at a slight angle. Despite the small size of the angle, visitors who enter the house will feel a great change in equilibrium. This off-balance feeling parallels the quiet chaos that Suh felt when he arrived in the states. Like Suh, visitors will adjust to their surroundings, learning to move around the space so as not to disrupt their balance.


Suh’s work transcends the boundaries of a traditional art exhibit by allowing visitors a chance to understand and experience his adjustment to the U.S. as a migrant. Blending art and culture into an eye-opening experience, Fallen Star is a must-visit art installation.

Fallen Star at UC San Diego – Jacobs School of Engineering is located on the right side of Voigt Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037. It is free and open to visitors on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 AM-2 PM.

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