President McPhee showcases photos from China

President McPhee speaking to students on September 10, 2014. Photo courtesy of MTSU.

By Rhiannon Gilbert, Staff Writer

University President Sidney McPhee gave a lecture on his visits to China and his passion for photography to students and faculty members in the Todd Art Gallery on Wednesday afternoon.

The lecture marked the first day of “CHINA: Through the Eyes of an American University President,” an exhibit featuring McPhee’s photos from over 120 Chinese cities and provinces that he visited from 1999 to 2014. The pictures on display show famous historical sites, both rural and urban areas, fashion and, his favorite subject, people.

“What really struck me…was the people,” McPhee said. “What I heard before going to China was that it was a closed society and that the people were not friendly, but I found just the opposite. The humbleness of the people [helped draw me] into China.”

Other large aspects of McPhee’s exhibit are the vastness of the land and the broad range of social classes in China. McPhee addressed some of the skewed ideas about Eastern culture that we hold in America and how China is home to much more diversity and advancement than Westerners tend to believe.

Students from multiple art classes attended the lecture and asked President McPhee about his technique and inspiration. He is a self-proclaimed amateur photographer and rarely uses photo editing software, but he described the art of photography as “one of the most rewarding and fun things for [him] to do.” He also explained to the students that having his photos on display has opened his mind to what he considers studio art.

McPhee hopes his showcase, as well as other art and photography exhibits at the university, will help students gain “exposure of the world through art.”

“I think what we do here, and with the [Baldwin Photo Gallery], really attracts people to the university, [and helps] not only our students, but community members [as well], to really understand and appreciate the finer things in life.”

The MTSU Arts Patron Society Reception for the exhibit will be from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11. President McPhee’s photo gallery will remain open in Todd 224A through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It will then be moved to the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce an on display from Sept. 22 to Oct. 22.

For a schedule of Todd Art Gallery exhibitions, click here.

For more updates follow us at, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

To contact Lifestyles editor John Connor Coulston, email


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