Elia Alba: The Supper Club

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Elia Alba: The Supper Club is a full color, 136-page monograph of Alba's ambitious photographic project centered on artistic identities and the historic lack of representation of cultural producers of color. The book is comprised of portraits and thematic dinner conversations with the artists featured in Alba's portrait series, giving voice and visibility to a diverse community of artists.

"...these vibrant portraits represent their subjects not simply as culturally expressive, but also as embodying the potential of a refreshed and relevant cultural world unencumbered by racism." Berger, Maurice. "Artists of Color as Avatars of Originality and Brilliance", The New York Times, April 2, 2019

Elia Alba: The Supper Club includes fifty-eight portraits produced by Alba between 2012 and 2017. The portraits were inspired by Vanity Fair magazine's annual "Hollywood Issue" and feature Firelei BáezCoco Fusco, Chitra Ganesh, Simone Leigh, Lorraine O'Grady, Clifford Owens, Dread Scott, and Jacolby Satterwhite, among others. This compendium serves as a complete record of Alba's photographs to date, presenting excerpts of transcripts from eight dinners, with essays by Rocío Aranda-Alvarado, Maurice Berger, Sara Reisman, and Brandi Thompson Summers. The dinner conversations address issues relating to race and visual culture centering on themes such as sanctuary, policing, post-black identity and intersectional identities connecting gender, race and privilege. The book has been edited by the Foundation's Executive and Artistic Director Sara Reisman, with George Bolster and Anjuli Nanda.

Between April 2015 and November 2017, the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation hosted nearly fifteen of Alba's dinners and organized the first comprehensive exhibition of her portraits in 2017, at The 8th Floor, the Foundation's gallery in New York City.

For more information on the publication and to purchase, please click here.

About the Project

Elia Alba: The Supper Club encompasses three primary components: an ongoing series of socially-engaged dinners, photographic portraits of participating artists, and the book. The project began in the summer of 2012 with Alba photographing a group of artists of color: David Antonio Cruz, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Las Hermanas Iglesias (Lisa and Janelle Iglesias), Lina Puerta, and Mickalene Thomas. These portraits were followed by three dinners hosted by New York City-based nonprofit Recess, bringing together fifty artists of color as a way to "give voice" to members of Alba's artist community. There have since been more than 25 dinners that have explored multiple themes pertaining to this community, and communities of color. The portraits feature the artist-subjects in locations and costumes that capture their unique voices, transforming their identities into iconic images.

About the Artist

Elia Alba was born in Brooklyn, New York.  She received her Bachelor of Arts from Hunter College in 1994 and completed the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in 2001. She has exhibited throughout the United States and abroad.  Those include The Rhode Island School of Design Museum; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; The Science Museum, London; ITAU Cultural Institute, Sao Paolo; National Museum of Art, Reina Sofía, Madrid and the 10th Havana Biennial.   She is a recipient of numerous awards and residencies for example Studio Museum in Harlem Artist-in Residence Program in 1999; New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, Crafts 2002 and Photography 2008; Pollack-Krasner Foundation Grant, 2002; Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant 2002 and 2008; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) Workspace Program, 2009, and Recess Analog, 2012. Her work is in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio, and Lowe Art Museum, to name a few. For the past 7 years, she has been working on a project titled The Supper Club. The project brings together artists, scholars and performers of diasporic cultures, through photography, food and dialogue to examine race and culture in the United States.  A book on The Supper Club, produced by The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and published by Hirmer, is scheduled for April 2019.  She is currently Artist-in-Residence at The Andrew Freeman Home in the Bronx.

About the Editor

Sara Reisman is Executive and Artistic Director of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation. An accomplished curator with a deep interest in art’s potential to enact social and political change, she heads the Foundation which has most recently emphasized programming centered on art and social justice. Through grantmaking, exhibitions, and special projects, the art and social justice initiative aims to broaden artistic and cultural access in New York City toward the development of more cohesive and resilient communities and greater participation in civic life. Prior to her appointment at the Rubin Foundation, she served from 2008 to 2014 as director of the Percent for Art Program of the Department of Cultural Affairs in New York City. She has curated shows for the Queens Museum of Art, Socrates Sculpture Park, the Cooper Union School of Art, and the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art, among other venues.