African Divas Project: Recreating Iconic Cover Art

African Divas Project: Recreating Iconic Cover Art

Inspired by cover art by popular music, Margaret Rose Vendreyes recreated LP covers by black female solo artists. Margaret Rose Vendryes is an art historian, visual artist, and curator. Her African Diva Project is an ongoing painting series that began in 2005. The Project is informed by her engagement with African aesthetics and popular African American music and visual culture. What began as a painting series conceived to celebrate and connect popular Black women singers with their African ancestors has evolved. The most recent works are mixed media that include original masks, carved or cast, by African craftsmen.

Each square canvas is modeled after a 12″ LP cover featuring a full- figure portrait of a popular black female soloist.  Each wears an African mask, chosen for its character and/or aesthetic compatibility to her image, painted on paper, and applied to the canvas in the place of her face.  In Africa, masks (many depicting powerful female deities or ancestors) are danced almost exclusively by men.  I give these dynamic female performers agency and protection replacing their psychological mask with a literal one.  Songs… messages that once rose out of vinyl channels, like black magic, are inscribed in the space that surrounds them. The series includes 33 1/3 paintings.

Take a look at the full project here. 

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