Youth Insights Blog

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Mar 23, 2016

artist describing work in front of painting

Njideka Akunyili Crosby discusses her work Before Now After (Mama, Mummy and Mamma), 2015 with Youth Insights Leaders. Photograph by Andrew Kist

Njideka Akunyili Crosby (b. 1983; Enugu, Nigeria) is a Los Angeles-based artist who explores the union of cross-cultural narratives within the different spaces she calls home. Crosby describes her art as a vehicle through which I explore my conflicted allegiance to two separate cultures.”  Her work, Before Now After (Mama, Mummy and Mamma) is on view across from the Whitney’s building and the southern entrance to the High Line, on the facade of 95 Horatio Street. Akunyili Crosby is the third artist to present work as part of the series, which was initiated by the Whitney in partnership with TF Cornerstone and the High Line. 

artist creating collage in front of students

Akunyili Crosby leads an art making workshop for Youth Insights Leaders. Photograph by Andrew Kist

The billboard work was expanded from a 2014 painting entitled Mama, Mummy and Mamma which delves into her family lineage, depicting three generations of women (her sister, mother, and grandmother). Akunyili Crosby often appropriates styles and influences of traditional European painters, creating a “new visual language” and inserting herself into the dialogue between past and present. A painting by Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi influenced the composition and color scheme of this work. Akunyili Crosby’s art is self-reflective and autobiographical. While deeply intimate in its nature and subject matter, her thematic and conceptual frameworks propose a much larger dialogue surrounding cultural heritage.

By Teja, YI Leader