You can view Julie Green's "Last Supper" plates at her website.
Oregon Public Broadcasting posts, "OSU Professor Draws Attention To Death Penalty Through 'Last Supper' Plates.
When Julie Green was living in Oklahoma in the late 90s, she would open her morning paper and find an intriguing, if somewhat morbid, detail. If the state executed someone, the paper printed the contents of their last meal.
"They actually humanized death row for me," she says. "It hit home to me that those meals were so personal and so specific."
She was drawn to these last meals, and eventually came up with the idea of painting representations of them on ceramic plates.
The Associate Professor of Art at Oregon State University has a new exhibit of her plates opening this week in Corvallis.
Some of the plates are paintings of plates full of fried chicken, ravioli and other comfort food. One is a pack of cigarettes. Another simply says, "None."
All of the plates are cobalt blue on white porcelain, reminiscent of fine china. It’s very much like the traditional plates Green grew up with.
Green says, "I think it's helpful that there’s some beauty in the piece ... to balance the inherent sadness of the subject matter.”
Green has been creating these plates for 13 years, and has painted over 500 meals in this way. You can see many of them at a new exhibit opening this week at The Arts Center in Corvallis. It’s called The Last Supper: 500 Plates.
Last year, Terra Magazine published, "Plates of Honor: Julie Green memorializes final meal choices by death-row prisoners." It was written by Angela Yeager. Here's a small excerpt; follow the link if you want to learn more about Ms. Green and her work.
When she accepted a position in the Oregon State University Department of Art in 2000, she began The Last Supper, a project that would translate her feelings into a public statement. Her first piece was a portrayal of those tacos and doughnuts that had caught her attention in Norman. Expressed through blue mineral paint fired on white porcelain plates, the series now has more than 500 pieces depicting last-supper choices by death-row inmates.
The work has been exhibited widely in the United States and internationally, most recently at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The Corvallis Arts Center plans a show in early 2013. National news media including Ceramics Monthly, Gastronomica and National Public Radio have featured The Last Supper, as has Dark Rye, an online magazine produced by Whole Foods Market. OSU-Cascades artist Henry Sayre has included text and images, as well as Green’s narrative tempera paintings, in the 2012 edition of his textbook A World of Art, published by Prentice-Hall.
At Oregon State, Green teaches painting, drawing and contemporary issues in art. In 2011, she received grant support from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Its prestigious award is given to only 25 contemporary artists a year to acknowledge painters and sculptors nationwide who create work of exceptional quality.
Green paints The Last Supper plates in her studio in a cozy historic bungalow in Corvallis, which she shares with her husband, artist Clay Lohmann. Every month or two, she loads newly painted plates into a dish rack and drives a slow half-mile to the home of artist and collaborator Antonia “Toni” Acock, who fires them in her ceramics kiln.
Oregon State University issued a news release on the Joan Mitchell Foundation grant, "OSU faculty member wins prestigious art grant."