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James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize

2014—Njideka Akunyili Crosby

The Beautyful Ones, Series 1b, by Njideka Akunyili Crosby

“The Beautyful Ones” Series 1b by Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Njideka Akunyili Crosby is the 2014 winner of the museum’s James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize.

Akunyili Crosby creates vibrant paintings that weave together personal and cultural narratives drawn from her experience as a Nigeria-born artist living in the United States. She uses an array of materials and techniques in each of her autobiographical works. Collage and photo-transfer provide texture and complexity to the surface of each composition in which photographs from family albums mingle with images from popular Nigerian lifestyle magazines. This varied and inventive use of media serves as a visual metaphor for the intersection of cultures as well as the artist’s own hybrid identity.

Akunyili Crosby was chosen by an independent panel of jurors, who said about her paintings: “Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s nuanced work reflects the increasingly transnational nature of the contemporary art world. Akunyili Crosby sensitively negotiates the cultural terrain between her adopted home in America and her native Nigeria, creating collage and photo transfer-based paintings that expose the challenges of occupying these two worlds. She has created a sophisticated visual language that pays homage to the history of Western painting while also referencing African cultural traditions. Akunyili Crosby has a striking ability to depict deeply personal imagery that transcends the specificity of individual experience and engages in a global dialogue about trenchant social and political issues. Her bold yet intimate paintings are among the most visually, conceptually, and technically exciting work being made today.”

Akunyili Crosby was born in 1983 in Enugu, Nigeria. Recent exhibitions include Draped Down (2014) at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Sound Vision (2014) at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and Bronx Calling: The Second Bronx Biennial (2013) at the Bronx Museum. Akunyili Crosby is represented by the Victoria Miro Gallery in London.


Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of The Studio Museum

Byron Kim, artist

Harry Philbrick, The Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Walter Robinson, artist, critic, and founding editor of Artnet Magazine

Sheena Wagstaff, the Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of modern and contemporary art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Pictured: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, “The Beautyful Ones” Series 1b, 2012–2013, acrylic, colored pencils, pastels and transfers on paper. Image courtesy of Jason Wyche. © Njideka Akunyili Crosby