About the Artists
Charles Burchfield (American, 1893–1967) is known for his quasi-mystical watercolor paintings. In his youth, Burchfield read the works of John Burroughs and of Transcendentalists such as Henry David Thoreau; these literary and spiritual influences are tangible in Night Scene (1919), a dimly illuminated, ghostly nocturne. Suzanne Caporael (American, born 1949), a recognized abstract painter, creates lyrical compositions that are inspired by scientific efforts to document natural phenomena. Dan Christensen (American, 1942–2007) was a pioneer of abstraction who experimented broadly with painting techniques throughout his career. CC-1 (1981) evokes many naturalistic visual parallels, including bright vegetation or flecks of water.
Barbara Grad (American, born 1950) captures rapidly changing cities and landscapes through her fractured compositions. In Drive Right on Left (2011), she layers multiple perspectives, such as bird’s-eye views, with details and textures that can be found in close proximity. Christina McPhee (American, born 1954) creates landscapes by using techniques such as smearing, dragging, dripping, erasing, and coating her media. She alters her source material just enough to create “fugue-like structures” that appear to float apart. Julie Mehretu (American, born Ethiopia, 1970) blends architecture, history, and geography to create flurried and dynamic drawings. In Okemos Drawings (Quartet A) (2008) Mehretu references the community of Okemos, Michigan, which exists just to the east of her childhood home of East Lansing, Michigan. Robert Walden (American, born 1968) produces diligent, handcrafted maps from real and imagined terrains. The title Ontological Surveillance Map 062712 (2012) demonstrates Walden’s interest in the subject of “ontology,” the philosophical study of the nature of being. The title doubly suggests an interest in the act of watching and recording.