“Julie Mehretu: City Sitings,” Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI. Through March 30.
Julie Mehretu, born in Ethiopia and raised and educated in Michigan and Rhode Island, explores the unwieldy issues of mobility, social organization, political entanglement, and global competition in her large abstract paintings. Mehretu is interested in the lifespan of cities–how they are built, dismantled, and rebuilt over time, yielding structures and spaces that reflect ongoing urban change. Her paintings follow the same process. As she layers and erases information from her compositions, each new level becoming a foundation for new iterations, stories, and identities. Five of the paintings, completed specifically for this exhibition, demonstrate her preoccupation with multiple, often conflicting, viewpoints.
In the NYTimes, Hilarie Sheets interviews Mehetru in her NYC studio. �I�m interested in looking backwards in time, and putting the United States� behavior in the world right now and the coming together of the European Union as a fortress in a context and history of behavior,� Mehretu said. �It�s also looking back at who you are as an individual. You�re not just this person who�s from your own specific experiences, but the collective experience of what makes you who you are because of time.�
Note: On Nov. 23 the Detroit Institute of the Arts will reopen to the public after big expansion designed by architect Michael Graves. The curators have rehung the museum’s entire collection in an effort to attract a wider audience. At a recent fundraising gala, the patrons seem pleased with the $158 million overhaul.