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.
Honduran-born artist and educator Alma Leiva received a BFA from New World School of the Arts in 2007 and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally in venues such as The Invisible Dog Art Center, Brooklyn, NY; Hasted Kraeutler, New York, NY; Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA; The Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA; Houston Center for Photography, Houston, TX; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL; David Castillo Gallery and The Museum of Art and Design, Miami, FL; Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New Palz, NY; The Zuccaire Gallery, Stony Brook, NY; The Snite Museum of Art, South Bend, IN; The Center for Photography at Woodstock, New York; Balzer Projects, Basel, Switzerland; Positions, Berlin, Germany and Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo, San José, Costa Rica and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Panamá among others.
She has completed residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT; (2011, 2018), Arteles, Haukijärvi, Finland; Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL (2012, 2014); The Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY; Byrdcliffe Guild, Woodstock, NY; The MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH, Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY; Southern Constellations at Elsewhere, Greensboro, NC and Ragdale, Lake Forest, IL.
Leiva’s work is in private and public collections including The University of West Florida, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Smith College Museum of Art and Elsewhere Museum.
Her work has been featured in numerous publications including Time Magazine’s Lightbox, Photo District News, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, Miami New Times, El Nuevo Herald, The Miami Herald, ArtPulse Magazine, Art Nexus and Oxford to name a few. Leiva lives and works in Miami, FL.