Njideka Akunyili Crosby (b. 1983) was born in Nigeria, where she lived until she was sixteen. She moved to the United States in 1999 and currently resides in Los Angeles, California. Crosby is known for creating layered figurative compositions that draw from art historical, political, and personal references.
Njideka Akunyili Crosby has earned the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize, among others. She was also named a MacArthur Fellow for “visualizing the complexities of globalization and transnational identity.”
I Refuse to be Invisible (2010) is currently on view at the Cummer Museum through a loan from the Art Bridges Program. In this large scale work, Crosby creates a composition that appears as a view into everyday life but subtly draws together her own personal experiences of navigating life as an African in America and the struggles faced by many trying to find their place in the modern world.
The piece illustrates a couple dancing while embracing each other closely. The man is looking at the woman, while she is looking directly at the viewer. Crosby stated that she styled the woman in the painting to not immediately stand out, encouraging the viewer to come closer and look harder in order to really see her.