MARGARET ROSE VENDRYES
Margaret Rose Vendryes (1955 – 2022) established a successful studio practice enhanced by her scholarly engagement with African aesthetics and its intersection with popular black music and visual culture.
She was formerly the Department Chairperson, Director, Fine Arts Gallery, Associate Professor and Chair of Performing and Fine Arts at York College in New York. She is the author of Barthé, A Life in Sculpture (2008).
Her work is in the permanent collections of The Princeton University Art Museum and The Lesley Lohman Museum of Art as well as private collections. Website: https://www.mrvendryes.com/gallery-1
The African Diva Project Side A
Each square canvas in my African Diva Project is modeled after a 12-inch LP album cover featuring a portrait of a popular black female soloist. Every Diva wears an African mask, chosen for its character and/or aesthetic compatibility to her image. The mask is painted on paper and applied to the canvas. In Africa, masks (many depicting powerful female deities or ancestors) are worn almost exclusively by men. I give these dynamic female performers agency and protection replacing their psychological mask with a literal one. Songs – messages that once rose out of vinyl channels like black magic – are inscribed in the space that surrounds them. The series includes 33 1/3 paintings.
The African Diva Project Side B
The African Diva Project questions the role of race and gender identification in contemporary African and African American communities. Side B, currently in progress, includes the provocative addition of hand-carved African masks attached to the canvas rather than painted on paper as in Side A. Many of these “decorative” African objects are beautifully rendered after traditional forms to introduce innovations in contemporary African masquerade.
ART TALK Video Interview: Race. Power. Gender. Identity.
Montclair Art Museum Director, Lora Urbanelli and artist Margaret Rose Vendryes discuss how race, power, gender and identity are investigated in her African Diva Project paintings.
click here for the Video