Last Chance for “First Meal” Art Show


Julie Green. “Burger, Fries and Ice Cream at Dairy Queen,” 2021. Made of acrylic, buttons, 24K gold, fabric, feather and glow-in-the-dark paint on Tyvek.

Daniel Delgado

Thank God, I’m Home: First Meal by Julie Green is an exhibition located over at the Harold B. Lemmerman Gallery in NJCU. Green asked wrongfully convicted prisoners about their “first meals” upon their release from prison and has made various works of art regarding their responses.

Each painting has been made very colorful in order to give life and show how human their wrongfully convicted people really were. This project had lasted up to three years until the death of Julie Green in 2021.

The first painting I want to discuss is named Burgers, Fries, and Ice Cream at Dairy Queen, 2021. The painting was made in one shade of red paint and was used to create a Dairy Queen in the background and it seems to take place in the 1990s as well. The red seems to bleed in the canvas at some point and gives the painting a bit of a dark undertone as well even though it looks very colorful. This dark undertone is fully expressed when one views the quote placed at the bottom of the canvas where it says “There’s no fast food in prison.” This painting was made with acrylic paint, buttons, 24K gold, fabric, feather, and glow-in-the-dark paint on a Tyvek canvas.

The context behind this painting is that this was made during a wave of hate crimes against Asian Americans. Exoneree Ted Bradford is a Native American who had wrongfully been a victim of a hate crime and was accused of a 1995 rape. When Bradford was finally released, all he wanted was some burgers, fries, and ice cream from Dairy Queen. This shows just how even the smallest things in life really mean a lot and just shows how important freedom is.

This painting reminds me of an Abstract Expressionist painting because one really needs to focus on the painting in order to see what exactly is being looked at. At first glance one just sees various objects that seem to fade but gradually we start to notice the small details the more and more we look at them.

Julie Green. “Huwe Burton Said Truth Freed Me, Music Kept Me Sane While I Waited,” 2019. Made of acrylic and glow-in-the-dark paint on sewn together Tyvek.

Another painting that reminds me of Abstract Expressionism is named Huwe Burton Said Truth Freed Me, Music Kept Me Sane While I Waited, 2019. Huwe Burtons describes his first meal being squash lasagna at Red Rooster in Harlem, New York. Borton was just 16 years old in 1991 when he was wrongfully convicted for the murder of his mother but was finally released in 2019. He described how music had kept him sane while he was waiting to finally be set free and live a peaceful life. The painting is painted in both blue and red, blue on the left side and red on the right side. Around it is painted a beautiful frame that is reminiscent of European frames and is contrasted with the two side-by-side paintings. The right shows Burton sitting in what seems to be his trial, and the left shows what seems to be lasagna in a very beautiful forest featuring a pond and type of building next to it.

This painting also shows bits of surrealism because of the lasagna being displayed in a very peaceful setting, signifying how Burton must have finally felt at peace when he had his first meal. Finally being relieved from all the hardships he’s had, having that first meal out of prison must have been the most peaceful experience that Burton had in his recent life.

The final day for this exhibition is on March 25. The Harold B. Lemmerman Gallery is located in Hepburn Hall on the third floor.