Arts | News

OSU Professor Explores Death Penalty Through 'Last Supper' Plates

OPB | Jan. 7, 2013 1:28 p.m. | Updated: Jan. 8, 2013 11:13 a.m. | Portland

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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.

A pack of Pall Malls.

A pack of Pall Malls.

Julie Green

“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.

More to Explore

  • “The Last Supper,” January 8-February 16, 2013
  • The Arts Center, 700 SW Madison Avenue, Corvalllis
  • Click the “Slideshow” icon in the left sidebar to see some of Julie Green’s plates features in “The Last Supper”

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