Guess who's coming to dinner (or the last supper). Alma Leiva. February 2019. Elsewhere Museum, greensboro, NC. Video documentation of curated dinner in collaboration with Jennida Chase and Hassan Pitts. 9 min 2 secs. Inkjet prints, embroidery, and poetry on museum collection fabric; ongoing collection of stories. 264” x 138” in. Live music performance in collaboration with Joshua Marquez.
QR code detail.
Interactive Greensboro, NC. Map image.2019.
Guess who’s coming to dinner (or the last supper) is a research-based interdisciplinary project that includes interactive, performance, and sensory elements. Inspired by Leiva’s grandmother who worked in a Florida tomato field in the 1980’s, this project is a response to the rising deportations of food industry workers in North Carolina. The project activates Elsewhere’s dining space through a tablecloth, web platform, poetry, a dinner event, and experimental sound performance. Guess Who encourages awareness about migration and labor through personal stories, pertinent statistics, and poetry that humanize this vulnerable demographic.
Through public engagement, Leiva facilitates a platform to bring this difficult conversation to the “table:” A concept she recalls in the title after Stanley Kramer’s 1967 film. Also recalling the table in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting, the project includes a hand-made tablecloth that pairs traditional “women crafts,” or the embroidery using inherited thread, with QR code technology. In the center, a printed, embroidered Greensboro map that resembles a living organism offers interactivity that takes participants to relevant information. On both ends, the tablecloth presents a split North Carolina state map with a poem by Leiva (translated by Walter Krochmal), dedicated to the workers in Spanish and English. In collaboration with local immigrant organization FaithAction, Leiva expands the conversation beyond the event’s inauguration by incorporating an expanding web platform that continuously features regional migrant workers’ personal stories.
In order to encourage engagement and critical thought, the artist served dishes during her opening exhibition using locally grown produce in collaboration with local artist Jennida Chase and videographer Hassan Pitts. The resulting food stains on the tablecloth become a growing archive of use. To add another layer, a responsive live experimental sound performance by composer Joshua Marquez played throughout the project’s inauguration. As a take-away memento, the artist handed custom printed napkins to the public.
THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS
"In North Carolina, legal and undocumented immigrants make up more than 10 percent of the workforce.
Since the end of 2007, the number of foreign-born workers employed in the U.S. has climbed by nearly 3.1 million to 25.9 million; they account for 56 percent of the increase in U.S. employment over that period, according to the Labor Department.
The foreign-born – who include American citizens, green-card holders and those working without legal authorization – tend to be younger and to take jobs in fields that have been growing fastest, including restaurants, hotels and stores."
"In states like Georgia and North Carolina, their presence has grown rapidly to represent 5.4 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively, of the labor force. In all but four states, service occupations, such as being a waiter, dishwasher or maid, together draw the largest number of undocumented immigrants, the Pew report found. About 31 percent of all undocumented immigrant workers were in service occupations in 2016, according to the estimates, which were based on data gathered by the Census Bureau.
Unauthorized immigrants represent about 24 percent of all workers in farming, fishing and forestry and 15 percent of those employed in construction, which is the industry that uses the most undocumented immigrant workers overall, at 1.35 million.
Nearly one quarter of restaurant workers in 2016 were foreign-born compared with 18.5 percent for all sectors, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compiled by the National Restaurant Association. A large share are likely undocumented, economists say."
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Published by the NC Farmworker Institute with funds from the Office of Rural Health and Community Care, NC Farmworker Health Program, 2007
Southern Poverty Law center