Margaret Rose Vendryes
Sowei Rupaul – African Diva


Margaret Rose Vendryes (born 1955, Kingston, Jamaica) is a New York-based art historian, visual artist and curator. Vendryes’ African Diva Project, which began in 2005 as a painting series conceived to celebrate and connect popular Black women singers with their African ancestors, has evolved into the creation of mixed media works incorporating masks made by African craftsmen. The project investigates gender and power dynamics of the African Diaspora, taking as focal points African masks, which are made and worn almost exclusively by men, though they tend to depict female ancestors, as well as the early black female singers in the West, who were styled and marketed by white males in the record industry. Imbued with an ancestral aura, these portraits affirm black performers as powerful and autonomous agents of change. Vendryes received her PhD in Art History from Princeton University and is a Professor of Art History and Department Chair of Fine Arts at York College, as well as Director of the York College Fine Arts Gallery. She is the author of Barthé, A Life in Sculpture (2008) and Beyond the Blues: Reflections on African America from the Amistad Research Center Fine Arts Collection (2010). This work is offered as an extension of her painting Sowei Rupaul – African Diva, which is held in the Leslie Lohman Museum of Art collection, on the occasion of the museum’s fiscal sponsorship of this platform.

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