Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Njideka Akunyili Crosby is a Nigerian-born Igbo visual artist born 1983 who works in LA, California. Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s art “negotiates the cultural terrain between her adopted home in America and her native Enugu in Nigeria, creating collage and photo transfer-based paintings that expose the challenges of occupying these two worlds”.In 2017, Njideka Akunyili Crosby was awarded the prestigious Genius Grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

In 1999 , at the age of 16, Njideka Akunyili Crosby left home with her sister, Ijeoma, and moved to the United States. She spent a gap year studying for her SAT’s and taking American history classes before returning to Nigeria to serve a year of National Service. After she completed her service, she returned to the United States to study in Philadelphia. She took her first oil painting class at the Community College of Philadelphia where her teacher Jeff Reed encouraged her to apply to Swarthmore College. She graduated Swarthmore College in 2004, where she studied art and biology as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. She was at first getting pre-medical requirements to pursue a career in medicine before deciding to pursue art. She didn’t pursue art until her senior year at Swarthmore after realizing she enjoyed her art classes more than her Organic Chemistry and Advanced Biology classes. She felt the urgency to tell her experience as a Nigerian in the diaspora through her art.

After graduating from Swarthmore in 2004, she studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. This is where she earned a post-baccalaureate certificate in 2006. She later attended the Yale University School of Art, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree.
Njideka Crosby is married to Justin Crosby, who is also an artist. Their son, Jideora, was born in 2016. She has formed friendships and traded work with other artists such as Wangechi Mutu and Kehinde Wiley.

In March 2017, a African art work by Njideka Crosby titled The Beautiful Ones (Series #1c), the first painting of five belonging to The Beautiful Ones Series, was sold by a private collector for $3 million at Christie’s London. Njideka Crosby for this holds the record for most expensive art work by a living African Artist (male or female).

Selected exhibitions
2013: Bronx Calling: The Second Bronx Biennial” at the Bronx Museum.
2014: Sound Vision, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, NC.
2014: Draped Down, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City
2015: Hammer Projects: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California
2015: Portraits and Other Likenesses from SFMOMA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
2016: Before Now After(Mama, Mummy, Mamma), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
2016: Njideka Akunyili Crosby: I Refuse to be Invisible, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida – Part of the Norton Museum of Art’s RAW Series.
2017: Njideka Akunyili Crosby/Predecessors, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH; The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York
2017: Front Room: Njideka Akunyili Crosby/Counterparts, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Md
2017: Side by Side Dual Portraits of Artists, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
2018: In My Room: Paintings of interiors from 1950-present, Fralin Museum of Art at The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
2019: I am… Contemporary Women Artists of Africa, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.
2020: Radical Revisionists: Contemporary African Artists Confronting Past and Present, Moody Center for the Arts, Houston, Texas

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