Artist Re-creates Death-Row Inmates’ Final Meals

Ever wonder what'd you choose for your last meal on earth? While that might have been the subject of some childhood banter, it's a real-life question. And Death Row inmates have a long, long time to ponder. Intrigued by the question, Brooklyn-based artist and chef Julia Ziegler-Haynes decided to re-create a series of asked-for meals chosen by Death Row prisoners in a series of understated yet unsettling snaps for her book Today's Special. Ziegler-Haynes was aesthetically inspired by food styling from the '70s, cheap restaurants, and cafeteria-quality fare. She sifted through hundreds of public records (information leading up to inmates' executions is posted online, too), found 24 compelling subjects, and re-created their last requests. The shots, depicted from the diner's vantage point, range from a black olive (a symbol of peace) to birthday cake and pizza. Without forgiving these convicts of their actions, Ziegler-Haynes begs us to take a a closer look at their psyches while providing an inside glimpse at the conflicting gesture of the last meal. "It's eerie to cook for someone who's dead, not to mention someone who's been put to death for killing another person," says Ziegler-Haynes. "I'm by no means excusing the deplorable acts that it took to land these men on Death Row—I'm merely taking a closer look at the human condition."

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