Julie Mehretu was born in 1970 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She studied at Kalamazoo College in Michigan (B.A., 1992) and at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal (1990–91). She received an M.F.A. in painting and printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. She has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Award (2005), the American Art Award granted by the Whitney Museum of American Art (2005), the 2002 Penny McCall Award, the Rhode Island School of Design Alumni Council Artistic Achievement Award (2006), and the Berlin Prize: Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin, Germany (2007). She has participated in numerous international exhibitions and biennials, including Documenta 13 (2012), the New Orleans Biennale (2008), the 15th Biennale of Sydney (2006), and the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art (2004). She has had solo exhibitions at such institutions as the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010), the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain (2006), and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2003). Mehretu now lives and works in New York and Berlin.