Alma Leiva (Miami, FL)
Southern Constellations Fellow. February 2019. 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.

Guess who’s coming to dinner is a research-based interdisciplinary project that includes interactive, performance, and sensory elements. Inspired by Leiva’s grandmother who worked in Florida tomato fields 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 migrant working conditions 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. 

Project in Response To: Black Lights MatterThe Kitchen CommonsNi Aquí, Ni Allá (Neither Here nor There)

Click on QR Code to Read More:


Process