A Nigerian artist now living in the United States has been named a 2017 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and the recipient of what are commonly called the MacArthur “genius grants.”
Njideka Akunyili Crosby, 34, is a creator of large-scale works that incorporate mixed media, including paint, fabric and textiles, and photography. Now living in Los Angeles, Crosby’s work is rooted in her African home and reflects a transnational sense of domestic life and family.
“Gleaned from family photos, cutouts from Nigerian newspapers and magazines, and commemorative cloth, the appropriated elements signal the works’ engagement with the world beyond the here and now of the interior scene described—the world of events and history, both collective and personal,” explained the MacArthur Foundation in announcing the honor and USD$625,000 in grant funding.
For example, in Nwantini (2012), the light, shadow and texture evoke a layered sense of history and meaning that becomes almost ghostly. In Super Blue Omo (2016), below, the “layers of materials from different sources overlay one another, with the final effect being that of an image that refuses to stay fixed, vacillating across different cultures and traditions,” the foundation explains.
Crosby draws on her African heritage but also her American experience. She attended school in the United States, including Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and Yale University for the completion of her MFA. Her work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum and others. She also serves as an instructor at Swarthmore and other institutions.
To learn more, or see all MacArthur Foundation Fellows, see this link.
Images: MacArthur Foundation/Crosby