Vendryes studio portrait 4.JPG

Interview with artist Margaret Rose Vendryes by ArtSite Program Manager, Marissa Lazar


What inspired you to apply to ArtSite?

 Jamaica audiences have enjoyed my work in the past and regretted seeing it taken down.  ArtSite offered an opportunity to bring The African Diva Project back to them and others in an even more public and interactive way. 


Please discuss your connection to Queens.

I grew up in Cambria Heights and, although I have lived in a number of other cities as an adult, my ties to Southeast Queens have remained through my position on the faculty at York College.  I now live in Richmond Hill.


Briefly describe your ArtSite project and what inspired your idea?

Jamaica Center has thousands of commuters, shoppers, and visitors to government offices passing through each day.  Perhaps more than any other audience, these people deserve a reason to slow down, stop, look, and enjoy what can be seen and learned from engaging with an art installation.  Standing Ovation: The African Diva Project is comprised of select figures taken from The African Diva Project, printed to life-size, and installed on the Jamaica Performing Arts Center lawn.  The location is appropriate given its role as a central space for this community to enjoy performances.  Each figure, mask, and rationale for their pairing will be on a sign/ legend installed just inside the JPAC fence.


Will ArtSite be your first public art project? What are some of the key differences between your normal practice and working in the public sphere?

 This is not my first "re-envisioning" of The African Diva Project paintings.  The inspiration to continue finding ways to allow the local population of Jamaica began with Jameco Exchange in the summer of 2016.  The interactive component of that indoor installation was more complex than Standing Ovation where the work will be out in the open for audiences to learn about the divas and their masks and to take photographs with them as if they were inside a painting.


Catch Standing Ovation: The African Diva Project from January 17th, 2019 through March 2019.


See more of Margaret’s work!