The Last Supper: 500 Plates by Julie Green
The Prison Industrial Complex by Buddy Bunting
Exhibition: Tuesday, April 16 to Friday, May 17, 2013
Gallery talk: Sunday, April 21 at 2 p.m.
Artist reception: Sunday, April 21 from 3 to 5 p.m.
The Art Gym, Marylhurst University
This spring, The Art Gym at Marylhurst University will present two exhibitions that address incarceration — The Last Supper: 500 Plates by Julie Green and The Prison Industrial Complex by Buddy Bunting. The exhibitions open to the public on Tuesday, April 16, continuing through Friday, May 17. On Sunday, April 21, Green and Bunting will give a gallery talk in The Art Gym at 2 p.m. followed by a reception for the artists from 3 to 5 p.m. All are welcome. Admission and parking are free.
The Last Supper: 500 Plates
In 1998, Julie Green was living and teaching in Norman, Oklahoma, when she first read a prisoner's last meal request in the newspaper. These reports of the final meal requests of death row inmates were
regularly published in the paper in Oklahoma and, as Green would discover, in many others states with the death penalty.
Green began making sketches based on the descriptions of these last meals and thinking about what they meant and how to represent them. She considered embroidering images of the meals on napkins, but eventually decided to paint images of the meal requests on plates. In the summer of 2000, she moved to Oregon and started the series, applying blue mineral paint to second-hand plates, which were then kiln fired. (I don't know if "kiln fired" should be hyphenated because it's not describing something like "kiln-fired glass." I'll go with whatever you say is correct.) The series, which Green intends to continue as long as the death penalty is legal anywhere in the United States, has grown to more than 500 plates.
Julie Green writes, "Why do we have this tradition of final meals, I wondered, after seeing a request for six tacos, six glazed donuts, and a cherry Coke. Fifteen years later, I still wonder."
The Art Gym's presentation of The Last Supper: 500 Plates follows major exhibitions at The Art Center in Corvallis, Oregon, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon in Eugene. The Art Center — with generous support from The Ford Family Foundation — organized the exhibition and published the accompanying book illustrating of all 500 plates. Green, who is an associate professor at Oregon State University, has had excellent response from the press. She was recently interviewed on NPR; the project was reviewed in the The New York Times; and "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central has invited her to appear on April 11, 2013.
The Prison Industrial Complex
Buddy Bunting is a Seattle-based artist. Since 2004, he has made large-scale, panoramic drawings and watercolors of correctional institutions and prisons in the Western United States. The Art Gym exhibition contains several of Bunting's largest prison drawings. The scale of the drawings — from 12 to 30 feet across — reflects the sprawling character of these industrial-scale architectural complexes; the vastness of the West; and the desert landscapes that often contain them. (If I improperly changed the meaning of the sentence, please fix!)
"I've always been most interested in where the prisons are built, or more accurately the places and the communities around the facilities. Since prisons are constructed in certain communities for economic and political reasons, my hope in the beginning was that my work would capture the relationship the facilities had on these communities." (Buddy Bunting, Interview by Amanda Manitach for New American Painting, May 2012)
Bunting grew up in Southeast Maryland, where a prison built in a neighboring county now employs a number of his acquaintances and incarcerates others. The rural Western landscape is not a familiar place for the artist, but as he explored the terrain, he became interested in the large impersonal industrial complexes often built there, including Walmart distribution centers and prisons—both of which he has drawn. (This is a very long sentence. Is there a way to make it two sentences? I did minor edits in yellow. Please make changes as you see fit.)
Bunting develops his resource material on site, using video, still photos and sketches. He notes that prisons don't encourage people to spend time photographing them, but he has been able to gather the material he needs over multiple visits. Bunting's long uninterrupted renderings resemble architectural illustrations. They do not present views one could encounter driving by these prisons, which are most often intentionally obscured by berms and trees. Prisons the artist has drawn to date include the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility, Grants, New Mexico; Idaho Correctional Center, Kuna, Idaho; Kern Valley State Prison, Delano, California; Two Rivers Correctional Institution, Umatilla, Oregon; and the Snake River Correctional Institution, Ontario, Oregon.
Buddy Bunting has been recognized for his work on this project, which has been supported by grants and fellowships from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York; Artist Trust, Washington state; and the Washington State Arts Commission.
About The Art Gym
The Art Gym is a program of the Department of Art & Interior Design at Marylhurst University.
It is located on the third floor of the B.P. John Administration Building on the Marylhurst University campus, 10 miles south of Portland, Oregon on Highway 43. The Art Gym is open from noon to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free. The Art Gym programs are supported in part through grants from the Oregon Arts Commission, Regional Arts & Culture Council, Clackamas County Cultural Coalition, National Endowment for the Arts and Oregon Cultural Trust, foundations, businesses and individuals.