Painting is my primary medium, though ceramics are often the substrate. It’s an inversion of historical Greek pottery, where the form of the piece was the most important, and the painting on its surface mere decoration.

Loss is a frequent theme. Since 2000, I spend half of my studio year illustrating final meal requests of death row inmates in an ongoing project titled The Last Supper. Oklahoma has the highest per capita executions; I first learned of final meals in the morning paper when teaching there. For me, a final meal humanizes death row. The Last Supper consists of cobalt blue on white, ceramic kiln-fired plates. The rule is no redo after firing which means in 895 plates to date, there is one very bad polish sausage.

Fashion Plate, another ongoing series, depicts personal and women’s narratives. This provides balance to The Last Supper, which necessarily prioritizes men because they are almost exclusively subjects of capital punishment in the U.S. Fashion Plate title refers to 18c. engravings of the same name. Showcasing options to wealthy clients, historical fashion plates have silk or velvet glued in the dress lines; they are early collages. On gessoed Chinet paper plates, I add precious and common materials including 24K gold, palladium, Heidi Gustafson Washington State Farmland Ditch Scum Iron pigment, acrylic, glow-in-the-dark, fabric, and rubber. Each is signed verso with a fingerprint backstamp.

First Meal, a recent project, is in collaboration with exonerees and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University. Each painting depicts a first meal eaten by an individual following release from a wrongful conviction. First Meal paintings are flag-sized. I usually think of flags being something we are proud of, something to wave, but First Meal  points to flaws in our legal system. The National Register of Exonerations states Black individuals are seven times more likely to be falsely accused of murder. Police misconduct, lack of good representation or both may lead to a wrongful conviction. Proceeds from First Meal are shared with the organization that supported release of the wrongfully convicted person. Upfor’s exhibition of First Meal and Fashion Plate received the Presents Booth Award at The Armory Show in 2020.

Julie Green  2021