For over two decades, Julie Green (1961-2021) had been searching for the human face in an inhumane carceral system, with ongoing series documenting the realities of capital punishment and wrongful imprisonment. Drawing on craft and handiwork traditions, Green’s substrate of choice is the “plate” and food is symbolism—for freedom and togetherness, pleasure and sustenance, and the lack thereof behind bars. Begun in 1984, The Last Supper records the final meal requests of death row prisoners on ceramic dishes. Green had planned to paint last meals until capital punishment had been abolished in the United States making their last work in a series of 1,000 in September of 2021, a month before their death.
Green’s First Meals pairs the pastoral scenes of their traditional transfer-ware progenitors with depictions of food eaten by newly freed, wrongfully convicted prisoners. Creating paintings on Tyvek from various fabrics, 24k gold, found samplers, dyed silk and more, Green paints these first meals upon release from prison in acrylic. The artist’s emphasis on personal, historical, and political details is reflected in their Fashion Plates, a series of paintings on Chinet paper plates. While The Last Supper prioritizes men’s experiences—as men are almost exclusively the subjects of capital punishment in the US—Fashion Plates considers women’s identities, with facsimiles of their thumbprints stamped on the versos, and the meaning of security.
Julie Green, professor of art at Oregon State University, lived in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. A recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant for Painters and Sculptors and the Hallie Ford Foundation Fellowship, Green is included in A World of Art published by Prentice Hall. Green has had forty-two solo exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad at venues including The Block Museum at Northwestern University, Hunter Museum of American Art, Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington and University of Liverpool Art Museum. Collections include State Library of Oregon, Spencer Museum of Art, Fidelity Investments, Athena Art Finance, and hundreds of private collections worldwide. Green’s work has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, CNN, a Whole Foods mini-documentary, National Public Radio, and Ceramics Monthly.
Upcoming exhibitions of First Meal include solo exhibition: Thank God, I’m Home at The NJCU Harold Lemmerman Gallery, Jersey City, NJ from February 1 – March 25, 2022 and a group exhibition of Hallie Ford Fellows, The Ford Family Foundation at Oregon Contemporary in early 2022. Her forthcoming book, a visual essay of Julie Green’s First Meal from Oregon State University Press is to be released in Fall 2022 with New York Times Journalist, Kirk Johnson. Julie Green’s estate is represented by UPFOR.