For this episode, I talked to Janet Taylor, art teacher and writer for the Art of Education. She actually taught me about Njideka Akunyili Crosby, the contemporary Nigerian/American painter. Njiedeka Akunyili Crosby was born in 1983 in Enugu, Nigeria. Her father was a surgeon and mother was a professor of pharmacology. Her mother won the green card lottery allowing Njideka to come to the U.S. to study when she was 16. She spent a year studying and prepping for the SATs then went back to Nigeria to perform a year of service. After completing the year of service, she came back to the U.S. She took her first painting classes at a community college in Philadelphia then went on to Swarthmore. She was initially pre-med before deciding to pursue art. After Swarthmore, she went to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, then went on to get her MFA from Yale.
A lot of her work focuses on straddling different worlds and her connections to Nigeria and the U.S. She uses painting with some collage methods like integration of fabric but particularly transfers. These methods not only integrate patterns and textures but also enrich the work through the connections to pop culture and other icons embedded as details to be discovered within her work. In 2017, she got the MacArthur genius grant which pretty much says it all right there. Her CV could make even the most accomplished among us question their adequacy.