Feb. 15–June 12, 2023
Huntington Art Gallery
For this exhibition, Als and Akunyili Crosby selected collage-based paintings 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 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 creates unique settings for her subjects, where history, philosophy, and fantasy permeate the walls of quiet living spaces. Furnished with vintage decor and analog electronics, the interiors evoke her own 1980s-era youth.
Akunyili Crosby (b. 1983) 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 a master’s in fine arts from Yale University. Akunyili Crosby’s work has been the subject of acclaimed solo exhibitions in both the United States and the United Kingdom, notably at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the National Portrait Gallery, London. In 2017, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant.”
This exhibition’s presentation at The Huntington is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation and an anonymous foundation.