Nigerian-American painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby takes inspiration from her Nigerian roots and combines them into her own millennial experience of America.
The first image above entitled ‘Home: As You See Me’ (2017) showcases objects from her grandmother’s meshed in with Crosby’s own Ikea furniture from her apartment in LA.
Akunyili Crosby became a 2017 McArthur fellow last year. Writes Art.net:
Akunyili Crosby’s paintings of herself, her family, and friends, often relaxing or embracing in their homes and other private spaces, explore cultural hybridity through a welter of references. They contain images of popular Nigerian musicians and beauty queens, ads from fashion magazines, and photographs from family events to situate themes relating to tradition and newness, politics and culture, and urban and rural in buzzing tension. African viewers may be able to immediately decode the images, while they may require some elucidation for the average Western observer.
The plane I had made for Lufthansa already contained 2,000 small images of the same plane. But I wanted to get to a scale that would be comparable to what felt like the beginning of a whole different paradigm. It was the 1980s, when air transportation had truly become global: airports were becoming cities and, while the whole industry was much smaller than today, it suddenly became very clear that the airplane would change the whole world, like the telephone or television had, or the iPhone would.
Like the factories in the 1960s, the airplane had become a source of horror and beauty, a super-horror and a super-beauty. So I made this airplane that is composed of more than one million little airplanes. Each airplane is different from the others; it was all made by hand, by distorting each piece of latex rubber and photographing it, printing it, and applying it as a collage. Your mind can read and understand differences, and realizes that this airplane is made of all these different parts, each unique.
I believe in total individualism, even in the largest mass. Even in billions, everything is singular and unique. Every cell, every atom, they are singular. I think that’s the richness of art, to define this singularity in the mass.
I’m sure that for me collage is a tool, another vehicle to express myself and to communicate my ideas, and I think that for me collage is a means, not an end in itself. In fact lately I’ve started drawing again and like Max Ernst did, sometimes I draw parts of my pieces that are integrated with collage images without being able to differentiate, in a mixed technique. I think that’s my point, I’m an illustrator and I use collage as I could use pencils or acrylics, as a tool and not as a purpose.
— Celsius Pictor, an illustrator and collage artist who describes his craft as “goldsmith work.”
The great thing about collage is that, because production is so minimal, you are always close to the vantage point of the viewer. I am often asked why I don’t just get two people, pose them for photographs and splice the shots more accurately, but that misses the point. It’s the imperfect match, the failure of unity, that makes us identify with these beings.
When people say I’m not a real photographer, I tell them I work with the medium rather than in it. In the internet age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the producers and the consumers of images. I see my work as merging these two worlds.