The museum is delighted to announce that Njideka Akunyili Crosby is the 2014 winner of our biennial James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize. Akunyili Crosby was selected by an independent panel of jurors who wrote in their decision, "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. She creates vibrant paintings that weave together personal and cultural narratives drawn from her experience as Nigerian and American. She uses an array of materials and techniques, such as collage and photo-transfer, which serves as a visual metaphor for the intersection of cultures as well as the artist's own hybrid identity.
"Akunyili Crosby's paintings speak to a figurative tradition in American painting that is a strength of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection," said Joanna Marsh, The James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art. "Her work both upholds this tradition and expands upon it in exciting new ways."
Akunyili Crosby is the 11th winner of the $25,000 award, which recognizes an artist younger than 50. She was selected by a panel of five jurors: Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem; 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; and Sheena Wagstaff, the Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of modern and contemporary art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.