Julie Mehretu

Born Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1970
Lives in New York, NY

© Jim Rakete.

I was broke and needed to come up with the money that day for the contractor to finish [the studio]... I opened the envelope from FCA with the check inside that same afternoon. It was unbelievable. The money from the grant assisted me in finishing the new studio to make my new very large paintings and it helped me with other production costs for my first solo museum exhibition at the Walker Art Center. That show is a very important marker in my work and my career.

Julie Mehretu, August 11, 2006


Julie Mehretu is a painter who creates large-scale works that combine references to architectural diagrams, aerial views, and maps, both real and imaginary, with signs and symbols. The resulting canvasses consist of densely layered intricate grids and networks that are flecked with color. Mehretu's practice is concerned with the political, personal, and social implications of public spaces. Her 2000 Grants to Artists award supported the production of her first solo museum exhibition, Julie Mehretu: Drawing into Painting, at the Walker Art Center in 2003.

Solo exhibitions subsequent to receiving her Grants to Artists award include Julie Mehretu: City Sitings, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit (2007), Williams College Art Museum, Williams, MA (2007), North Carolina Museum of Art (2008); Mehretu: Grey Area, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin & Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2009); Julie Mehretu: Half a Shadow, carlier|gebauer, Berlin, Germany; Liminal Squared, Marian Goodman Gallery, NYC (2013), White Cube, London (2013); Mind Breath and Beat Drawings, Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris (2013); and Julie Mehretu: The Mathematics of Droves, White Cube, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2014).

Since the time of her 2000 Grants to Artists award, Mehretu has participated in numerous international exhibitions and biennials including the Whitney Biennial New Orleans Biennale, dOCUMENTA (13), the Biennale of Sydney, The International Biennial of Contemporary Art Foundation of Cartagena, the Moscow Biennale, and the Saõ Paulo Biennial. Mehretu's work has also been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, Punta della Dogana, St. Louis Art Museum, and Carnegie Museum of Art, among others.

Her work is now in the public collections of Brooklyn Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Hammer Museum at University of California, Los Angeles, Museum of Modern Art, New Museum, National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Philadelphia Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Seattle Art Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others.

Subsequent to her 2000 FCPA grant, Mehretu has completed residencies at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Studio Museum in Harlem (2001) and the Walker Art Center (2003).She received the Penny McCall Award (2002), The MacArthur Award (2005), The American Art Award granted by the Whitney Museum of American Art (2005), The Rhode Island School of Design Alumni Council Artistic Achievement Award (2006), the Berlin Prize: Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship at The American Academy in Berlin (2007), and the Barnett and Annalee Newman Award (2013). Prior to her 2000 Grants to Artists award, Mehretu was awarded a residency as part of the Glassell School of Art CORE Program (1997-1998).

In 1992 Mehretu earned a B.A. at Kalamazoo College in Michigan and in 1997 she received an M.F.A. with honors in painting and printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design.