Artist Woman Crush Wednesday (African American History Month Edition): Julie Mehretu

Stadia I. 2004.

Stadia I. 2004.

I came across a few of her pieces at the Carnegie International in 2004 and I was engrossed in this massive paintings. Unfortunately, I always forgot her name but recognized the aesthetic every time I encountered her massive work. In researching this post, I realized I had assumed she was white and male. I think the scale and architectural nature of her work brought up some internalized patriarchal ish in me. I am used to seeing black female artists doing representational work that is focused on the African American experience from a women's perspective. I am on some level used to seeing black women make non objective abstract art (my mother, Alice Slade, being the biggest example of that in my life). I guess I still don't expect it.

The funny part about it is that I MAKE non objective abstractive art. And if you didn't know, I am a black woman. Hmm...no wonder I struggled with this internally. I felt like maybe I was doing something wrong by creating work that had nothing to do with race, class or gender. Believe me when I say that I tried to force myself to make representational art. And it's not really my jam. My background definitely comes out in my process. But I love my black artists, female artists and black female artists though.

I digress. Mehretu creates large scale layered paintings focused on spatial abstraction. The painting feel like a whirlwind of color with high energy. And a black woman made them.

Empirical Construction, Istanbul.* 2003. Ink and synthetic polymer

Empirical Construction, Istanbul.* 2003. Ink and synthetic polymer

Episode #106: Julie Mehretu puts the finishing touches on her large-scale painting "Mural" at Goldman Sachs, adjusting shapes and colors in dialogue with the architecture and views from the street. Julie Mehretu's paintings and drawings refer to elements of mapping and architecture, achieving a calligraphic complexity that resembles turbulent atmospheres and dense social networks.