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PAFA adds painting by alumna Njideka Akunyili to permanent collection
Njideka Akunyili (b. 1983), I Always Face You, Even When it Seems Otherwise; 2012; charcoal, acrylic and xerox transfer on paper; 2 panels, each: 78 x 78 in. (198.12 x 198.12 cm.); Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has purchased a painting by rising art star and alumna Njideka Akunyili (Post-Bacc, '06). "Njideka Akunyili's large scale collage paintings weave her autobiographical narrative into complex compositions which bridge the particulars of her own story," says Harry Philbrick, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum at PAFA. "[Akunyili] was born and raised in Nigeria, where she still has strong family connections, and lives and works in New York, with her American husband. Her story encompasses profound cultural connections and divisions."

Regarding the purchase, Philbrick says that the decision was an easy one. "We bought Njideka Akunyili's piece because she is a talented artist on the rise - her residence at the Studio Museum, work with Jack Tilton, and interest from collectors and museums nationally speaks to that. This piece is a major work by her, which I felt was a museum-quality work," says Philbrick. The piece selected by the museum, a worked entitled I Always Face You, Even Though You Think Otherwise, is an example of Akunyili's prowess with mixed media and intercultural themes. "Njideka's story is expressed through her source images, which are drawn both from personal and family photographs as well as images from popular culture and mass media. The result is a beautiful, insightful, and complex body of work, of which I Always Face You is a major piece," says Philbrick. The purchase also represents PAFA's commitment to expanding its collection of contemporary American art.

Akunyili expressed great pride in selling one of her painting to her alma mater. "I had one of my most inspirational museum going experiences seeing Sidney Goodman's Nude on a Red Table when I visited the PAFA museum before I even enrolled as a student," she said. "Later, my studies with Sidney and the other great faculty at PAFA provided me with a crucial understanding of how to put together compelling images. As a student at PAFA, I loved visiting the museum's expansive collection for inspiration. Because of my intimate history with PAFA, I am excited to have my work be a part of the collection." After completing the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program at PAFA in 2006, Akunyili went on to the Yale University School of Art to complete her MFA in 2011. Akunyili's work is also a part of the permanent collections at the Yale University Art Gallery, The Rubell Family Collection and The Studio Museum in Harlem.

The Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program at PAFA is for artists who have already completed an undergraduate degree and have extensive studio art-making experience. PAFA's Post-Baccalaureate Program allows artists to spend a year focusing on developing their technique and grasp of theory in a supportive and stimulating environment. All Post-Baccalaureate students receive a private studio and have access to the galleries of the Academy's renowned collection of historic and contemporary American art.

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