Trans artist renders constructs of masculinity

Trans artist renders constructs of masculinity

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Oregon-based trans artist Lorenzo Triburgo will bring both activism and artistry to town during his exhibition at the University of the Arts, through May 1.

In addition to a discussion of his works on April 27, Triburgo will participate in Equality Forum’s National Transgender Panel on April 26. He said he is just as eager to talk about civil-rights issues as he is to talk about his art.

“As a trans person, I’m really excited to talk on that panel about how the visual arts can play a role in transgender activism,” he said.

Triburgo added that the increased attention to transgender issues in the media can be both good and bad.

“That’s always a tricky thing,” he said. “With any sort of minority representation in the media, it’s always going to be really complicated as far as the effects of that coverage.”

In his “Transportraits” series of photographs, Triburgo has created images of transgender men in an effort to examine gender constructs and, at the same time, play around with the concept.

Triburgo said the subjects he photographs are all eager to participate in his works.

“Part of my process is to be pretty relaxed trying to find people. I didn’t want to be really aggressive. Most of the people I photographed actually came to me and asked to be a part of it by word of mouth. I felt that was pretty important to not be an aggressive photographer. The people who are participating have to want to be part of the project and have to agree with my statement.”

Triburgo also creates the landscape oil paintings he uses as backdrops for his photographs.

“The backgrounds are very much an aesthetic choice,” he said. “They’re all Bob Ross-style paintings that I’ve painted. I choose the background that fits the person. A lot of times, they will come into the studio and I’ll have some paintings ready to go that I can choose from. Then I’ll just intuitively pick which one will go with which person I’m shooting at the time.”

The PBS, afro-sporting, “happy little trees” Bob Ross?

OK. We’re down.

“For me that kind of represents ‘Nature’ with a capital N,” Triburgo said about using Ross as his inspiration. “Having them be painted is sort of deconstructing the idea of something natural in existence. It’s a parallel between the idea of gender being a natural occurrence versus something that is socially constructed. That’s where the paintings come in. I was thinking, and worked on different types of backgrounds for the piece. I worked on projections and other types of media as a background and I thought a painting would be ideal. Bob Ross, just as an American icon, seemed like the perfect fit when dealing with constructions of American masculinity.”

Triburgo will participate in the National Transgender Panel at 8:30 p.m. April 26 at Hamilton Hall, 320 S. Broad St., and will discuss his photography in “The Medium of Deconstruction: Photographic Journeys in Gender Variance,” 2:30 p.m. April 27 at University of the Arts, 211 S. Broad St. For more information, visit, or

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