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Art History and The African Diva Project



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Honors Program

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Honors Program presents a seminar in Art History and The African Diva Project by Margaret Rose Vendryes, PhD., chair of the Performing and Fine Arts Department and Director of the Fine Arts Gallery.

Artist Historians cannot deny the significant impact of artists, movements, and methods that inform our studio practice. Sometimes, the inspiration is unconscious, but it is inevitably there. I will share the most salient connections between The African Diva Project, now over a decade in-progress, and the art historical facts and figures that have guided its existence and evolution.

Dr.Margaret Rose Vendryes is an art historian, visual artist, and curator. She received her BA in fine arts from Amherst College, MA in art history from Tulane University, and PhD in art history from Princeton University. She taught at Princeton University and Amherst College before entering the faculty at York College & The Graduate Center of the City University of New York where she received tenure in 2006. Among several honors, Vendryes held an American Association of University Women Fellowship and was a Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In 2008, University Press of Mississippi published Vendryes’ book Barthe, A Life in Sculpture the first comprehensive monograph on the late African American sculptor Richmond Barthé.

The “African Diva Project” is a painting series enhanced by Vendryes’s scholarly engagement with African aesthetics and its intersection with popular Black music and visual culture. She set aside art history research to create The African Diva Project in 2007, which has grown to over 45 works of art celebrating popular Black women soloists. Vendryes has had solo exhibitions in Boston; NYC; and Biloxi, MS as well as exhibited in several group shows over the last decade. She is currently associate professor and chair of the Department of Performing and Fine Arts and Director of the Fine Arts Gallery at York College. Her work can be seen at