The Last Supper: 'It humanized death row'
EUGENE, Ore. -- For nearly a decade, artist Julie Green has been painting the last meal request of those on death row who have been executed in the United States.
Green's artwork is now on display at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon until April 7.
"The inmates are limited to what's in a prison pantry in most of the states," said Green. "People often comment when they view this show how modest the requests are. There's no Godiva chocolate. There's no sushi."
The project began when she lived in Oklahoma and read about the final meals in the newspaper. Some of the meals requested are pizza, hamburgers, fish, sandwiches. Others are simpler like vending machine candy, water. Some do not request a final meal.
"It humanized death row. Prior to that, death row was one of the many societal problems I saw," said Green.
The Death Penalty Information Center reports there have been 1,324 executions in the U.S. since 1976. Green has painted around 500 plates, and she says she plans on painting plates until the death penalty is abolished.
"This is an odd practice, to have a final meal. I've asked prisons why they have that, and they say its because we always have," said Green. She says she thinks she knows why they exist. "It gives the prison something positive to think about on the day of an execution."
"Whatever your stance on capital punishment, execution..it's not an easy task i'm sure," Green said.
Green hopes her art will get the conversations going on capital punishment. "I just put it out there and hope people will think about it."