New York City, NY – On June 15, Guild Magazine was present for the unveiling exhibition of photographer Lex Barberio‘s new photographic series, The Ambisextrous. Held at the stylish ctitizenM New York Time Square Hotel, the event was attended by a vibrant and diverse crowd of guests which included artists and professionals from the fashion and entertainment industry, as well as activists of the LGBTQA+ community.
For each piece of work in the The Ambisextrous series, a portrait is presented highlighting three different exposures: one masculine, one androgynous, and one feminine. Printed on lenticular paper, each of the exposures seamlessly blend into the other as the observer’s gaze shifts across the image. The collection of images highlights the artist’s desire to expand the interpretation of beauty and promote LGBT+ acceptance through inspiring understanding among familiar and unfamiliar audiences. The result is a series that is not only transcendent but also personal and intimate, as we observe the changes that each subject goes through.
We had the pleasure to meet with the Miami-raised artist and discuss her vision, as well as her inspiration for this series.
– Lex, can you tell us about your earlier days in Miami and your professional trajectory in the world of art?
I grew up meeting people and creating art on the Deco streets of Miami Beach. My affinity for photography began at a very young age, and as years went on, I became more serious. I refined my skills at The Miami Ad School, studying under my mentor, Ginny Dixon. After attending school, I combined my photography and conceptual skills with my design skills and became an art director in New York City. I currently hold the position of Senior Art Director for Pepsico at Vayner Media.
– Further discussing these earlier years, what drove you to realize photography was the art you identified with?
Photography became my main focus when I realized I could show people how I view things in my mind. I’ve always seen the world with a little bit of magic in it, and my goal in my work is to evoke the same feelings I felt during the moment I created it. I found that photography was one of the only formats that allowed me to have a foot in reality, and the other in the dreamscape I envision.
– When discussing this exhibition, can you tell us about what inspired you to create this body of work – The Ambisextrous– and your creative process to bring it into fruition?
The Ambisextrous is a project I’ve had in mind for a few years now. I thought of the name about four years ago, and since then, I had been trying to create work that lived up to the weight of that name. After meeting a muse, internalizing the project, and really thinking about what The Ambisextrous meant to me, it all boiled down to fluidity and, of course, magic. I thought to myself, “How can I show fluidity in a single image without using a screen?”, and The Ambisextrous was born. From that moment, it took me about eight months of trial, error, and learning the business angle of art to complete this body of work.
– How personal is this body of work to you?
Art is self-exploration exposed, and that’s precisely how this came about. This body of work is one that is very personal to me– there is a lot I don’t understand about myself, but I find joy in continuously being able to unwrap and enjoy different versions of who I am. I wanted to capture and share that feeling of curiosity and freedom that comes with getting to know yourself.
– There is something quite hypnotizing when appreciating these photographs one next to the other. Thinking of the night when these images were exhibited to the public, how did you feel when seeing the reaction people had to these photographs?
In all honesty, I was blown away! The night of the exhibition was the first time I ever viewed this body of work displayed, and the feeling was overwhelming. When I saw people looking at the work and moving side to side to be able to see each image in its entirety, I knew I had succeeded. I felt like a magician who was able to successfully and skillfully baffle the crowd.
– What does your art mean to you, and what would you like for people to see, understand, or take with them when they see your work?
To me, my art is a manifestation of things that are felt but are hard to put into words. When people look at this series, I want them to see that although each person is portrayed in three different ways, it is still the same person in every iteration. No matter how a person chooses to express themselves, they are still people, and they are, will be, and always have been themselves.
– If you could change one aspect of our society through your work, what would it be?
Normalization and visibility of my community are themes that run through all of my work. If my artwork could change our society by bringing understanding and empathy to people who are not a part of the LGBTQA+ community, I will have successfully made my impact on society.
– Who has inspired you in your career?
In my career, I have been heavily inspired by the writing of Robert Greene, whose books helped me understand human nature. Also, Ellen Von Unwerth’s photography displays a perfect balance of sexuality and confidence that has inspired me.
– What are you working on next?
I have a few upcoming projects, including creating a LGBTQA+ photography-based sex-ed book. I am also creating a collection of work capturing the style and grace of the queer community in the New York City of today. – GM
Footage from the night of the exhibition.