Professor’s Art Chosen for Neighborhood Improvement Project

On Monday, April 28th at 2:30 PM, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) will unveil five (reproduced) pieces from the original "African-American Diva" paintings of Dr. Margaret Rose Vendryes, for display on the sidewalk on Parson’s Boulevard near the Jamaica Center subway station.

"They liked my African Diva project and I liked the idea of the paintings reaching a broader public," said Dr. Vendryes. "York College is an important part of the profile of Jamaica. Efforts towards outreach to share the richness of our campus offerings beyond course offerings are ongoing with varying levels of success. I see the arts as a catalyst towards raising the success level of community participation in events that take place on campus. My connection to both communities as a resident scholar and artist can serve as an exemplary link which is only one of many that highlights the many reasons why Queens is quickly becoming a huge cultural contender in the arts arena." According to Dr. Vendryes, a York Distinguished Lecturer, the exhibition she had at the Jamaica Center for Arts (JCAL), which came out of the exhibition in York's Fine Arts Gallery, was brought to the attention Emily Collasacco, art director at the DOT, who was looking for art to kick off a renovation project for Jamaica Center. That project will include a new pedestrian mall."

Dr. Vendryes explained that the New York City Department of Transportation's (DOT Art) Program collaborated with the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) and the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District (BID) to curate the outdoor exhibition. DOT says the project is "examining the role of race and gender in contemporary African and African American communities." The exhibit will also showcase the work of local Queens photographer, Dominique Sindayiganza. 

The dynamic "Divas" paintings were inspired by iconic album covers of singers such as Diana Ross and Donna Summer. Dr. Vendryes has reinterpreted the images on canvas with each diva’s face covered with an African mask. This latest collaboration between York and the community bodes well with Dr. Marcia V. Keizs, president of the college.

"I am delighted that the DOT, an important agency in our city, has discovered York as a place where art thrives," said President Keizs. "Dr. Vendryes' talent is a fine example of the outstanding work of talented faculty across the York spectrum. I look forward to the unveiling of the exhibit, which will serve as visual testament to this fact."

In addition to York College, where Dr. Vendryes was a tenured professor in the 1990s, she has taught at the CUNY Graduate Center, and lectured at Amherst College, Wellesley College, Amherst College, where she earned her BFA; Tulane University, where she earned the MA in Art History; and at Princeton University, where she earned the PhD in Art History.

The exhibit will run through September 22 of this year.

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