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New exhibits at Art Gym take look at incarceration

The Art Gym at Marylhurst University will present two new exhibits 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 April 16, continuing through May 17. Green and Bunting will give a gallery talk in the Art Gym on April 21 at 2 p.m., followed by a reception for the artists from 3 to 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend; admission and parking are free.

Julie Green’s “The Last Supper:

500 Plates”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTOS - Virginia 31 July 1986 by Julie Green, made of cobalt mineral paint on kiln fired ceramic.

Green was living and teaching in Norman, Okla., in 1998 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 and, as Green would discover, in many other states with the death penalty. She began making sketches based on the descriptions of these last meals and thinking about what they meant and how to represent them. She eventually decided to paint images of the meal request 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. Green intends to continue adding to the series as long as the death penalty is legal anywhere in the United States. Currently the series includes 500 plates.

“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,” Green said.

Buddy Bunting’s “The Prison

Industrial Complex”

Idaho Correctional Center, Kuna, Idaho by Buddy Bunting, created of watercolor, flashe and pencil on paper, 2012.

Bunting is a Seattle-based artist and has made large-scale, panoramic drawings and watercolors of correctional institutions and prisons in the Western United States since 2004. 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.

“I’ve always been most interested in where the prisons are built, or more accurately the places and the communities around the facilities,” Bunting said. “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,” Bunting said in an interview for New American Painting in May 2012.

Bunting develops his resource material onsite, 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 artists has drawn to date include the Idaho Correctional Center, Kuna, Idaho and the Two Rivers Correctional Institution, Umatilla.




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