From a series of prints that convey weather patterns, wind currents, convection movements, light rays, and other natural formations, Julie Mehretu’s Diffraction was produced at Crown Point Press in San Francisco. The title, Diffraction, conveys the process by which light or waves spread, resulting in additional waves of interference or dissonance. Mehretu’s work often features intersecting lines and networks inspired by mark-making as disparate as cartography, architectural renderings, graffiti, and calligraphy. Conceptually, her work is underpinned by rigorous examinations of topics including history, colonialism, capitalism, migration, climate change, diaspora, displacement, and technology.
According to the artist, her visual language conveys how “history is made: one layer on top of another, erasing itself, consuming itself, inventing something else from the same thing.” In a single work, Merethu may deploy multiple techniques, including printing, drawing, collage, erasure, painting, and other approaches. Born in Ethiopia, she emigrated to the United States as a child and grew up in East Lansing, Michigan. Today based in Harlem, New York, she has been included in numerous major international exhibitions, including Documenta XIII (2012), the Whitney Biennial (2004), the Carnegie International (2004), and the Istanbul Biennial (2003). Her work in Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America is currently on view at the New Museum in New York.
Julie Mehretu (American, born Ethiopia, 1970), Diffraction, 2005, color sugar lift aquatint with aquatint, spit bite aquatint, and hard ground etching on Gampi paper chine colle, edition 31/35, 35 ½ x 46 ¾ inches. Gift of Donna and Cargill MacMillan, Jr., 15-2008.