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Contemporary Arts Centre Presents Njideka Akunyili Crosby: The Predecessors Exhibition

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center & Tang Museum, Skidmore College; Co-curated by Ian Berry & Steven Matijcio. Opens July 15, 2017.

When Njideka Akunyili Crosby (b.1983) left Lagos for the U.S. at age 16 she detoured from her initial plan to be a doctor to pursue painting and fulfill the urge to tell another side of Nigeria’s story.

Her first paintings navigated the domestic landscape of life with her new American husband and intimate scenes of their wedding and home. The Predecessors mines deeper into Akunyili Crosby’s past, collecting portraits of her Nigerian family in a range of domestic settings. This exhibition unites her seminal series for the first time, bringing together individual pieces from London, Johannesburg, New York and Los Angeles to celebrate a formative body in an artist’s rapidly emerging voice.

“America has a lot of people talking about how Nigeria doesn’t,” she says. “Often people have a singular view about Nigeria and Africa. But problems of misrepresentation happen when people tell your story for you.” Akunyili Crosby’s work fuses painting, drawing, collage and the use of transfers– a typically Western printing process. She uses transfer images of popular culture to reference traditional African textiles, creating quilt-like pieces that speak to post-colonial identities and traditions being pieced together.

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Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Predecessors [detail], 2013. Courtesy of Victoria Miro, London (Photography Jason Wyche and Sylvian Deleu) © Njideka Akunyili Crosby.