Artist Elia Alba discusses diversity in media through photography series, ‘The Supper Club’

Jasmine Lopez

An award-winning artist who documents the intimate conversations people have at the dinner table spoke in the Christian-Green Gallery in Jester Hall on Monday afternoon.

Elia Alba’s photo project, “The Supper Club,” brings artists together through photography and communal meals to examine issues related to race and identity in the United States. Alba launched the project in 2012 because of the lack of representation of people of color in media at the time.

“I think their voices were necessary, and that’s how the concept of dinner came up,” Alba said. “It’s about images of representation that I don’t feel like I see, images that are empowering. That’s the biggest role (of photography).”

The first dinner was polarizing, Alba said. She does not attribute the polarization to people’s anger but to their disconnection in a space where she had hoped to present a connection.

“We know what our differences are. It’s discussed,” Alba said. “I was interested in the dynamic of all these cultural groups coming together.” 

That is when Alba said she felt the need to continue the dinners beyond the three she initially planned and continue the conversation about race and identity with the people she was photographing.

Jasmin Hernandez, a dinner guest that was not photographed by Alba but featured in “The Supper Club,” spoke about racial identity. 

“Our identity is so fluid,” Hernandez said. “We’re constantly navigating between different spaces.” 

Alba’s focus with the project shifted toward themes of identity and race in 2014 and 2015 with events such as the deaths of Eric Garner, Mike Brown and Freddie Gray, who are black men that died after interactions with police. 

“I was really interested with people, with this spectrum of blackness and brown, how they interacted and reacted to these political events, and it just kind of evolved from that point,” Alba said. 

 



Alba said she likes to have dinners with people of different ages and backgrounds.

“What was really cool about that (dinner) was that some people were talking about sanctuary when they were younger and thinking about sanctuary now, but it was the same answer: people still don’t feel safe,” Alba said. 

Public relations sophomore Yazmin Dominguez attended the event for class.  

“I came to see the expression of diversity in media,” Dominguez said. “Obviously it’s not something we’ve seen a lot of, and it’s growing now.”