The Smithsonian American Art Museum has awarded the 2014 James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize to Njideka Akunyili Crosby.
Akunyili Crosby is the 11th winner of the award, which recognizes an artist younger than 50 who has produced a significant body of work and consistently demonstrates exceptional creativity. It is intended to encourage the artist’s future development and experimentation.
Akunyili Crosby was selected by an independent panel of jurors who wrote in their decision: “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.”
In addition to Akunyili Crosby, the 2014 nominees were Cory Arcangel, Trisha Baga, Paul Chan, Barnaby Furnas, Theaster Gates, KAWS (Brian Donnelly), Josiah McElheny, Dave McKenzie, Julie Mehretu, Frances Stark, Swoon (Caledonia Curry) and Mickalene Thomas. Marsh coordinated the jury panel selection and the nominating and selection process for the award.
Artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby (Photo by Paul Smith)
Akunyili Crosby was born in 1983 in Enugu, Nigeria. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in 2004, then studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts before earning a master’s degree in fine arts from Yale University in 2011. She has participated in numerous exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including most recently “Draped Down” (2014) at The Studio Museum, “Sound Vision” (2014) at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and “Bronx Calling: The Second Bronx Biennial” (2013) at the Bronx Museum. Akunyili Crosby is represented by the Victoria Miro Gallery in London.