Julie Mehretu, HOWL, eon (I, II) (2017). Exhibition view: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2017–ongoing). © Julie Mehretu. Courtesy Hyperallergic. Photo: Matthew Millman Photography.
In her latest work, HOWL, eon (I, II) (2017), commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Mehretu set out to explore the vast landscapes and violent history of the American West. The two paintings now hang in SFMOMA's lobby, accessible to the public free of charge. Mehretu worked on the vast canvases flanking the museum's stairway, each 27 by 32 feet, at an abandoned church in Harlem, close to her house. . . When she was visiting SFMOMA for the opening she spoke with me about the evolution that happens working at such a huge scale, and how the election results made work seem more urgent.