Julie Mehretu was born in Ethiopia, raised in Michigan, educated in Senegal, earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, and now lives in New York. This global perspective has profoundly influenced Mehretu’s art. Her complex drawings and multi-layered paintings depict public spaces—arcades, stadiums, and international airports—from around the world, in the form of scaled maps and architectural plans, transformed into abstraction by the artist’s imaginations on these subjects. Mehretu’s work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions at premier venues such as the Whitney Museum of American Art(the 2004 Biennial), the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the ContemporaryArt Museum in Houston, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2004), and Poetic Justice, the 8th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey (2003). Among numerous awards and accolades, Mehretu was a recipient of the esteemed MacArthur“Genius” Fellows Award in 2005.
The Joyce Award supported The Detroit Institute of Arts to commission Mehretu to create a new work for City Sitings, an exhibition/installation of 11 large-scale paintings and one site-specific wall drawing, organized by the DIA; a partnership with Detroit Public Schools and Communities in Schools of Detroit, Inc. to introduce themes of empowerment and renewal through Mehretu’s eyes; and enhanced photography and printing for the exhibition catalogue. City Sitings was the inaugural exhibition for the DIA’s grand re-opening.