Nigeria-born visual artist, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, brilliantly combines collages, drawings, paintings, fabrics, and photo transfers on paper to explore the cultural differences between her adopted home in America and her native home in Nigeria.
She creates art that expose her challenges of occupying these two worlds – using rich visuals that pay homage to the history of Western paintings while also referencing African cultural traditions.
A hallmark of her art is the use of small photographic images of Nigeria and Nigerian icons and piecing them all through her work. She photocopies pictures from various sources – such as wedding albums and magazines – and transfers them to paper.
While speaking with Dynamic Africa, Njideka said about her work:
“Nigeria is almost a third character in my work. A lot of my work is about investigating my love for Nigeria and my life in America."
"I met my husband at college and there was some anxiety that if I married outside my culture I would lose my identity, but there is a space in my work where these things come together.”
She also spoke about her childhood and how leaving Nigeria changed her:
“If I hadn’t left Nigeria, I wouldn’t be an artist, I would be a doctor. When I told my parents I wanted to be an artist, they couldn’t get their heads around why an educated person who went to college in America would want to be an artist.
"If people think of artists, it’s somebody by the side of the road painting signs. When I was young, the less Nigerian you were the cooler you were, but now we have gone back to tradition. There’s a nice energy about the country that’s finally coming into its own.”
You can see more of Njideka Akunyili Crosby work on her website.