13 March 2008

Paper cuts and final cuts

A couple of interesting exhibits at RAW (Reed Art Week), which ended Sunday. I went especially to see Nikki McClure's mind-boggling papercuts. I hadn't heard of her til I picked up a calendar last fall in the Contemporary Craft Museum gift shop. Now I'm totally smitten with her work.

In the room next door was an installation called The Last Supper Table. The artist, Julie Green, had illustrated Death Row inmates' last meal requests on blue-on-white ceramic plates, each stamped with their date of execution. Twelve plates (out of the 300 or so she's done) were set around a table with wood, institutional-style chairs, the kind you'd find in a 1940s prison visiting room. A card, propped like a placecard behind each plate, described the meal as requested.

I was fascinated by the individual selections. Some were quite specific: hot and spicy chicken breast, two slices of sausage pizza with extra cheese (why not?), a slice of German chocolate cake, French vanilla ice cream, and a Dr. Pepper. Or steak with A-1 sauce, jalapeno poppers with cream sauce, onion rings, and a salad with cherry tomatoes, ham chunks, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and blue cheese and ranch dressing. The unexpected combination of steak, asparagus, brussels sprouts, feta cheese, cake and watermelon. The sheer "bring it on"-ness of BBQ turkey legs and BBQ brisket, plus avocados and a bowl of cheddar cheese. Cheese cheese cheese cheese. Not too many vegans on Death Row.

No doubt planning your last meal gives you something to focus on and anticipate, besides the obvious. A couple of plates, much smaller than the others, expressed the desire for no final meal at all. If I were facing execution the next morning, I think that'd be my choice, too.

But I'm not sure; those onion rings sound pretty good.

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