art in Portland

Back Room Talk with Julie Green

Upfor visitors enjoyed a pleasant, intimate evening with artist Julie Green in the gallery’s back room on August 8, 2019. Green’s informal talk focused on First Meal paintings, composed primarily in acrylic paint on Tyvek. The first three paintings from the series are on view in Upfor’s back room (currently twelve are completed or in process), and they served as a focal point for the conversation. Each translates into visual form an individual’s description of the first meal they ate following exoneration from wrongful conviction. Green’s access to exonerees’ stories is possible through collaboration with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University.

In many ways, First Meal grew out of Green’s widely-known, ongoing advocacy project, The Last Supper, for which Green paints on found ceramic plates the final meals of executed US prisoners. Final meals of capital punishment victims, unlike the first meals of exonerees, are typically a matter of public record – a sharply humanizing detail in an otherwise dehumanizing process. Committed to producing 50 new plates each year until the death penalty is abolished, there are currently 850 works in the series.

On September 14, The American Museum of Ceramic Art opens Flown Blue, an expansive exhibit of Green’s work. It includes The Last Supper, as well as selections from First Meal and other series. Though First Meal stories are not focused on people exonerated from death row, the occurrence of wrongful convictions, often due to official misconduct and other human errors, nevertheless highlight and reinforce some of the most urgent ethical implications of capital punishment in an imperfect judicial system.

Unlike plates from The Last Supper, First Meal paintings are available to collectors. Proceeds from sales go toward research, supplies, handling and (when not exhibiting) storage for The Last Supper. In addition to social justice, the projects are rooted in Green’s interest in food and the sharing of meals as an essential component of culture and relationships.

Learn more about Julie Green and other bodies of work by visiting their artist page on our website. A selection of works remain on view in the back room through September 14. Preview the works via Artsy, or contact for viewing appointments or information about available works. To receive notice of future back room talks and other events, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Paintings in Julie Green's Food, Fashion and Capital Punishment include hidden content

Paintings in Julie Green's Food, Fashion and Capital Punishment include hidden content

Julie Green embeds narrative details, easily missed in a cursory look, in or near the borders of each painting. Each also has content not readily visible in the gallery setting: on the front, elements in glow in the dark paint; on the back, facsimiles of women's fingerprints. Once charged in daylight, the glow-in-the-dark paint shines all night long.

Read More