Njideka Akunyili | Fine Artist

Njideka Akunyili, Nwantinti, 2012, Acrylic, charcoal, pencil color, collage and Xerox transfers on paper, Size: 8 ft. x 5.57 ft. photo by Marc BernierNjideka Akunyili Post-Bacc ‘06, Certificate ‘06-09 PAFA was born in Enugu, Nigeria. Her paintings, characterized by rigorous figuration, explore the artist’s complex relationship to both Nigerian and Western culture. Her work has been featured in group exhibitions in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and California and is in the collections of the Community College of Philadelphia, Swarthmore College, and the PAFA Print Department Archives. She is a 2011 MFA graduate of Yale University and is currently an artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

“In my four years at PAFA I must have studied with everyone,” says Akunyili. “I obtained a vast knowledge of art, the history of it, how my art fit into it, and it’s still with me today, and it feels really good. I still struggle in my studio—I think all artists do—but it’s a different kind of struggle. If i want to achieve an effect, I know I can do it. After four years at PAFA you can dance around, paint and brush in a way very few people can. I don’t think there are a lot of schools that offer that.”

According to Akunyili, the best part of the PAFA experience was the opportunity for technical growth as an artist. “It just makes you realize that a lot about drawing isn’t talent the way people think, it’s practice,” explained the emerging artist. “It helped to have a lot of practice under my belt. You just drew and painted until you figured it out. Going to PAFA was one of the best decisions I made.”