Dr. Vendryes to Leave York for Tufts
Dear York College Community:
It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Dr. Margaret Rose Vendryes, a veteran York College Fine Arts professor and dedicated "York citizen,” will be leaving us to become Dean of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. Based in Medford, Massachusetts, Tufts University is a private university founded in 1852. The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, located on Boston's historic Fenway, was acquired by Tufts in 2015.
In her lengthy career at York, Dr. Vendryes has contributed so much more than her teaching skills to our academic enterprise. Her expertise includes historian, visual artist, curator, and an educator both in and out of the formal classroom.
For five years (2015-2021) she was chair of the Performing and Fine Arts department and has long been director of the Fine Arts Gallery at York. As an academic, she has been a Professor of Art History for over twenty years and is widely published in her field as author of the book, Barthé: A Life in Sculpture, (University Press of Mississippi, 2008) which was the first complete biography of African American sculptor Richmond Barthé.
Dr. Vendryes has been dedicated to the cause of diversity/inclusion in all its variations, including race, gender, LGBQT+ community members, celebrating diversity and promoting inclusion. Under her leadership, York College’s Fine Arts Gallery expanded its audience focus to include the external Queens community. She founded the Southeast Queens Biennial and the upcoming inaugural Jamaica Summer Artist Residency at York College. Dr. Vendryes has served in leadership positions on many campus-wide committees, including those for Writing Across the Curriculum and the Africana Resource Center. She was also for a time, faculty liaison to the LGBTQ+ faculty liaison for a time.
As a visual artist, she self-describes as being “concerned with representations of gender, race, and cultural identities in the African Diaspora.” In particular, her years-long ongoing painting and mixed media series The African Diva Project is “informed by her engagement with African aesthetics and popular African American music and visual culture.” Hyper locally, reproductions of her African Diva paintings have been exhibited by the MTA along Jamaica Avenue and in exhibitions at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.
The loss of Professor Vendryes from the York family will be tremendous. While we celebrate this great news for her, we are saddened to lose working with such a valuable colleague. She has served York and its students with passion and dedication; and provided stewardship of a large African art collection bequeathed by York alumnus Victor E. Richards ‘79. The impressive collection is on display within and outside the Africana Resource Center in the 3B corridor.
In the spring of 2016, Professor Vendryes curated an exhibit of the collection and invited the now-deceased Mr. Richards to discuss his collecting history and what the pieces meant to him personally and historically. His interest in the subject started as a York College Art History major in the late 1970s. That exhibit, “Gods, Oracles Ancestors: The Victor Richards Collection of African Art at York College is available online at gods-oracles-ancestors.
And while Professor Vendryes will miss York, she is embracing this new experience. "This is a new wrinkle in my professional life and has given me the opportunity to make a difference in the education of artists," she says.
Please join me in thanking Professor Vendryes for her years of dedicated service to York College and in wishing her well as she heads off to her new adventure. Currently on sabbatical, we will only see her on campus occasionally during this spring semester, but we want her to know how invaluable her service has been to the college.