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Njideka Akunyili Crosby dwells in the domestic. There is a warmth to her show of new works at Art + Practice, like stepping into a long-familiar living room. Large scale works on paper depict the artist alongside family and friends in poses of comfort and repose. They look directly out of the picture frame with an irrepressible confidence: ‘beautyful’ and proud. As a woman and person of color these politics of representation are not lost on Akunyili Crosby, and it is to be celebrated that her thoughtful representations of non-white persons are currently on display not just in Leimert Park but also at the Hammer’s main building in Westwood.
Akunyili Crosby utilizes a process of Xerox transfer printing to build highly patterned grounds on which she overlays her painterly scenes and portraits. Combining an assortment of material from her personal life in the US, as well as from her homeland of Nigeria, she manipulates a largely Western technique to mimic the rhythms of traditional African textiles, expertly blurring the cultural divide asserted by colonialism.
Filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu also explores the politics of pattern in her short film Intermittent Delight which playfully interrogates gendered work and cultural appropriation with a mashup of textile patterns, action footage of weavers, and a cringingly retro refrigerator commercial. Also on view is the narrative Kwaku Ananse, a coming of age tale of an outcast teen in search of life purpose. This story is interwoven with the West African fable of Kwaku Ananse, the trickster spider. This celebration of Ghanian mythology also draws heavily from the filmmaker’s biography. In the film she explores the age-old quandary of mortality in lush visual detail. Taken together, the work of both artists provide thought-provoking contemporary statements as to the importance and impact of the often marginalized realms of pattern and decoration as well as the personal and domestic.
The Beautyful Ones and Two Films runs from September 12–November 21, 2015 at Art+Practice (4339 Leimert Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90008).