Margaret Rose Vendryes is an artist, art historian, and curator with an established record of publications that includes her book, Barthé, A Life in Sculpture.
She maintains a multimedia studio practice inspired by African aesthetics and their intersection with music and visual culture of the African Diaspora. With a distinguished career creating visual artworks, curating, lecturing, and writing as an art historian focused on African American art and artists,
Vendryes is currently Chair of Performing & Fine Arts and Director of the Fine Arts Gallery at York College, CUNY.
Vendryes' Standing Ovation: The African Diva Project is currently on display along the front fence of the Jamaica Performing Arts Center (JPAC). With its cultural significance as a central space for the Southeast Queens community to enjoy live performances, JPAC is the perfect home for Vendryes' work. JCAL, who operates JPAC, has been holding space and presenting diverse cultural programs for the last 47 years. As the one and only multi-displinary urban arts center in Southeast Queens, JCAL has earned a reputation for showcasing local and international artists and performers, inspiring youth to take an interest in the arts, and creating dynamic multicultural programs that engage all generations and local residents.
The African Diva Project foregrounds black beauty that is colorful, contemporary, and focused on female musicians to bring the role of ethnic and gender identities within contemporary African American performance into the light. African masks, created and performed by men, are today precious objects found in prestigious public and private art collections. Black women singers, too, are collected in sound and images for consumption. As Vendryes' work demonstrates, these talented women deserve the right to wear, and be protected by, transformative ancestral masks.
"The black women behind these masks are entertainers given high spiritual and ritual significance. As African Divas, they become powerful representatives of changing times shouldered with the support and grace of ancestral Africa.”
-Margaret Rose Vendryes
The Standing Ovation African Diva Project is commissioned by the Queens Council on the Arts, funded by NYS Regional Economic Development Council in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts, with additional support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.