Njideka Akunyili-Crosby, a Nigerian painter has been awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. Njideka whose area of focus is 2-D visual art was part of the 24 MacArthur Fellows. The MacArthur Foundation recently announced the recipients of its 2017 awards.

According to the foundation, for one to be selected as a fellow, they must possess exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments, and finally potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Njideka is an accomplished painter whose works gained international recognition for its expression of the hybridity characteristic of transnational experience through choices of subject matter, materials, and techniques.

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But for Njideka, her breakthrough year was in 2016 when she was awarded the Prix Canson by the Fonds Canson pour l’Art et le Papier in honour of her work on paper. The Prix Canson award entitled her to a solo show and $11,300. In 2016 Njideka won the Future Generation Art Prize worth $100,000, which gave her much needed visibility.

According to her profile on the MacArthur Foundation website, in her explorations of the complexities of forging identity in a globalized society, Njideka is developing an inventive yet accessible representational strategy for understanding culture and history from multiple viewpoints all at once.

Each recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship will be paid $625,000 in equal quarterly instalments over a five year period.

The Foundation states that although nominees are reviewed for their achievements, the fellowship is not a lifetime achievement award, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential. The purpose of the MacArthur Fellows Program is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.

Unlike other awards or fellowships that require a feedback from recipients on work being done, the Foundation says it does not require or expect specific products or reports from MacArthur Fellows and does not evaluate recipients’ creativity during the term of the fellowship.

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Njideka was born and grew up in Nigeria. She has a Masters in Fine Arts from Yale University School of Art.