Figurative Painter and daughter of late Dora Akunyili, Njideka Akunyili Crosby is among the 24 winners of the 2017 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.
Typically awarded to around 20 American artists, academics, writers, and scientists each year, the grant is given to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction,” according to the foundation.
Each each will receive a $625,000 award from the foundation “as an investment in their potential,” paid out over five years with no strings attached.
34-year-old Los Angeles-based Akunyili Crosby was praised by the foundation for her large-scale works that “express the hybridity characteristics of transnational experience through choices of subject matter, materials, and techniques.”
Crosby’s solo exhibition at the Tang Museum in upstate New York opens this week (October 14–December 31); the Baltimore Museum will present a suite of new paintings on October 25.
The American, Berlin-based artist Paglen—who has launched a disc of images into space and investigated top-secret CIA programs—was lauded for “documenting the hidden operations of covert government projects and examining the ways that human rights are threatened in an era of mass surveillance.”
Chicago-based, New York-born Bey, a major figure in the history of African-American photography, was described as “a photographer and educator whose portraits of people, many from marginalized communities, compel viewers to consider the reality of the subjects’ own social presence and histories.”
Other fellows this year include journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, mathematician Emmanuel Candès, opera director Yuval Sharon, gender bending performer Taylor Mac, and immigration reform advocate Cristina Jiménez Moreta.
“From transforming conditions for low-wage workers to identifying internet security vulnerabilities, from celebrating the African American string band tradition to designing resilient urban habitats, these new MacArthur Fellows bring their exceptional creativity to diverse people, places, and social challenges. Their work gives us reason for optimism.” Cecilia Conrad, managing director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, said in a statement.
Numerous artists have been awarded MacArthur grants since the “Genius” program was initiated in 1981, including Bill Viola, David Hammons, Vija Celmins, Kerry James Marshall , Kara Walker, Mark Bradford, and Carrie Mae Weems.