This focused exhibition of works by Njideka Akunyili Crosby (b. 1983), Yale MFA 2011, is the third and final show in a series curated by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author Hilton Als in collaboration with the YCBA and each artist. Previous exhibitions featured works by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (2019) and Celia Paul (2018).
Als and Akunyili Crosby selected works from The Beautyful Ones, the artist’s ongoing series of intimate portraits of Nigerian children, including members of her own family. The title references a classic 1968 novel, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, by Ghanaian author Ayi Kwei Armah. Published in a year of worldwide civic and social unrest, Armah’s book comments on the challenges of revolution, addresses the unfulfilled political promises of the postcolonial African nation-state, and looks ahead from a place of lost hope.
Akunyili Crosby is a leading contemporary artist whose work offers critical perspectives on postcolonial history and experience as well as transnational identities. Born and raised in Nigeria, she came to the United States in 1999 to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Swarthmore College, before obtaining an MFA from Yale University. Now based in Los Angeles, Akunyili Crosby has been the subject of a sequence of high-profile and well-received solo exhibitions in both the United States and the United Kingdom, notably at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the National Portrait Gallery, London. In 2017 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant.”
The exhibition will travel to the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California, where it will go on view in February 2023.
Image: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, "The Beautyful Ones" Series #4, 2015
© Njideka Akunyili Crosby, courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner