Several plates had steaks painted on them. Some had a hamburger depicted on them. There were quite a number of plates with paintings of a variety of fish. One had a cigarette as its focus in the middle of the plate and another a cold glass of ice water. Then there was pizza and soda cans of Mountain Dew and Cola and ice cream cones.
But the one that humanized this art exhibit the most for me was the one with a painting of a birthday cake, with the words, “He never had a birthday cake so we ordered a birthday cake for him.”
Julie Green’s solo exhibition at the Corvallis Art Center is called “The Last Supper – 500 final meals of U.S death row inmates.” Green has used cobalt blue paint to share the stories and scenes depicting 500 final meal requests of death row inmates from across the country. Green, an associate art professor at Oregon State University, started the series in the early 2000’s and says she will continue painting 50 plates a year until the death penalty is abolished. The exhibit started January 8 and runs through February 16.
A 50th anniversary celebration of the The Corvallis Art Center on January 26 featured Green sharing a bit about her work, with the mayor of Corvallis opening the celebration. Incidentally, the New York Times ran a story about the exhibit on the same day as the Art Center half-century celebration. New York Times Features Julie Green’s Last Supper
It is interesting Green’s choice of the words, The Last Supper. When I first heard the words used and before learning anything about the exhibit, I thought it had to do with Christ’s reference to the Last Supper in the Bible. Perhaps, she was using that term intentionally, to evoke strong emotions and a play on words. But, it really has nothing to do with that of course. She really is here to say, let’s reconsider the death penalty. Let’s look at those on death row as humans.
No matter what your political views are on the death penalty, this exhibition gets you thinking. And, ultimately, is that not one of the most important things that art can do for us.