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Artist to Know: Njideka Akunyili Crosby


Then You Lost Me 2013 Oil and acrylic on printed paper mounted on board 2 ft. × 1.67 ft.

I first encountered Njideka Akunyili Crosby at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Her captivating use of color and texture to tell stories made her a instant favorite from my trip. The Nigerian artist lives and works in New York, and says this about her work.


My art addresses my internal tension between my deep love for Nigeria, my country of birth, and my strong appreciation for Western culture, which has profoundly influenced both my life and my art. I use my art as a way to negotiate my seemingly contradictory loyalties to both my cherished Nigerian culture that is currently eroding and to my white American husband. Most of the Nigerian traditions I experienced growing up are quickly disappearing due to the permeation of Western culture and the ensuing opinion that being ”too Nigerian” is uncool. I feel dismayed by Nigerians’ unquestioningly valuing anything Western as superior however, my awareness of this problem does not exempt me from it – indeed, I question whether this mentality played a part in my falling in love with my husband. My art serves as a vehicle through which I explore my conflicted allegiance to two separate cultures.



When looking at one of her piece, you feel as though you're getting a glimpse into a private moment. She achieves the life like quality by collaging photographs. Here is where you see reflections of Romare Bearden, whom she cites as a major influence. View more of her work here.

“The Beautyful Ones” Series #1b
2012

Acrylic, color pencils and transfers on paper
5.1 ft. × 3.5 ft.

Janded
2012

Acrylic, oil and collage on canvas
2 ft. × 1.67 ft.

Nwantinti
2012

Acrylic, charcoal, colored pencil, collage and Xerox transfers on paper
5.57 ft. × 8 ft.

Witch Doctor Revisited
2011

Acrylic, charcoal, pastel, colored pencil, collage and xerox transfers on paper
6.3 ft. × 4.25 ft.

Efulefu: The Lost One
2011

Acrylic, charcoal, colored pencil, collage and xerox transfers on paper
3.3 ft. × 2.5 ft.

Something Split and New
2013

Acrylic, pastel, color pencils, charcoal, marble dust, collage and transfers on paper
7 ft. × 9.25 ft.

And We Begin to Let Go
2013

Acrylic, pastel, color pencils, charcoal, marble dust, collage and transfers on paper
7 ft. × 8.75 ft.

Thread
2012

Acrylic, charcoal, pastel, color pencils and xerox transfers on paper
4.33 ft. × 4.33 ft.

I Refuse to be Invisible
2010

Ink, charcoal, acrylic and xerox transfers on paper
10 ft. × 7 ft.



Kimberly Foster is the founder and editor of For Harriet. Email or

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