Lasting memories: The Last Supper at the Block
  • Texas, September 21, 2011. "Two chicken-fried steaks, one pound of barbecued meat, a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger, a meat-lover’s pizza, three fajitas, an omelet, a bowl of okra, one pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream, some peanut-butter fudge with crushed peanuts and three root beers." Lack of consumption of this meal caused Texas to end the final meal request plan.
  • Texas, March 30, 2010. No final meal.
  • Alabama, October 20, 2011. "From food available in the prison cafeteria, chose a turkey bologna sandwich with tomatoes and cheese, french fries, and an orange drink. Later, from a vending machine, Johnson got a Reese’s Cup, pretzels and grape Sunkist drink."
  • California, January 17, 2006. "Had a last meal of buffalo steak, a bucket of KFC white-meat-only chicken, sugar-free pecan pie, sugar-free black walnut ice cream, Indian pan-fried bread and whole milk. Ice cream was left out one hour to thaw and turned into a milkshake by hand."
  • Texas, October 22, 2001. "One bag of assorted Jolly Ranchers."
  • Texas, July 20, 2006. "Lasagna, mashed potatoes with gravy, beets, green beans, fried okra, two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream, a fruit pie, tea and lemonade."
  • Oklahoma, March 15, 2012. "A large stuffed-crust pizza with extra cheese, half pepperoni and half Canadian bacon, and a 2-liter bottle of orange soda with ice."
  • Federal, June 11, 2011. "Two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream, most likely Haagen Dazs in Terra Haute, Indiana."
  • Virginia, July 22, 2003. "Regular prison menu: hot dog with mustard and onions, oven-browned potatoes, coleslaw and watermelon."
  • Florida, May 29, 2013. "Bacon and eggs, fruit salad with strawberries, papaya, peaches, pineapple and tropical fruit, an avocado and a can of Carnation milk served at 10 a.m."
Photos by author

Julie Green, professor of art at Oregon State University has a plan - a plan to bring awareness for the abolition of capital punishment. 

The Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University is currently showing Green’s Last Supper exhibit that illustrates the final meals granted to prisoners on death row before their executions. With four walls covered in 600 ceramic plates of all shapes and sizes, the differing meal options, or sometimes lack thereof, give a different perspective of the justice system. Even though the exhibit will only be presented until August 9, Green will continue to paint 50 plates a year until capital punishment is abolished.

Though the quarter is wrapping up, students should definitely head to the Block to check out this exhibit and reflect on the soberingly delicate portrayals of entire lives synthesized into one china plate. The death penalty (while still legal in 34 states excluding our own Illinois) was just abolished in Nebraska, the first traditionally conservative state to do so in nearly 40 years. While this is certainly not the first artistic representation of last meals (think da Vinci or Henry Hargreaves), this one feels particularly salient in its ongoing effort to erradicate the death penalty.  

Following NBN's profile of the artist behind the exhibit, here are some of the highlights of the exhibit to view as you ruminate on the politics of capital punishment.


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