A Burmese photographer fled his country and left everything behind — now he needs your help
By Staff | Photographs by Hong Sar
Alexa and Kurt Diserio are a collective force of creativity. Separately, they have their own artistic endeavors in which they shine. But when they combine forces, watch out. There is a palpable electricity in what they produce. // The Oberports
By Carmen Gentile // Photographs by The Oberports
Alexa and Kurt Diserio are a collective force of creativity.
Separately, they have their own artistic endeavors in which they shine.
But when they combine forces, watch out. There is a palpable electricity in what they produce.
Kurt is a marketing whiz who also creates hand-drawn, psychedelic illustrations that often depict his second, greatest love: custom motorcycles. Meanwhile, Alexa is a photographer whose services are sought out by betrothed couples and others in search of soulful, exquisite images.
Together, they form Wild Native, a company that produces events, publishes periodicals, images, and more. Its motto — “Creative ambition with a touch of mischief” — is a better descriptor of who they are as partners than I could conjure.
Alex and Kurt produce Pittsburgh Moto magazine, a chronicle of the custom motorcycle scene in Western Pennsylvania. Kurt writes the words and Alexa makes the images. As a magazine publisher myself, I’ve taken a keen interest in their evolution and am inspired by their work.
(Full disclosure: Kurt and Alexa featured me in a recent issue of Pittsburgh Moto, despite the fact that the only “custom” thing about my motorcycle is the duct tape covering the rip in the saddle.)
They also produce Glory Daze, an annual custom motorcycle show (2020’s show was cancelled because of COVID-19, though it resumed this year) featuring painstakingly restored and modified bikes from all over the country against the backdrop of Carrie Blast Furnaces, just outside of Pittsburgh.
Their partnership dates back many years. Alexa is 29; Kurt is 36. The couple grew up in rural West Virginia and both suffered the slings and arrows of being artists in a place where their creativity wasn’t always appreciated. Alexa, particularly, says she felt the sting of being “different” because of her multiracial background and the often less-than-enlightened attitudes of some who attempted to degrade her.
She has risen above it to outshine them all with the help of her always-supportive partner, Kurt. These photographs, taken by the Oberports (theoberports.com), exemplify their bond as both husband and wife and creative partners whose collective ambition and imagination feed off the strength of their love, friendship, and mutual admiration for one another’s talent.
We asked them each to tell Postindustrial what makes the other a good partner and how their union has fared during these trying times.
PI: What makes Kurt a good partner?
Alexa: He may seem a little tough on the outside, but ultimately, he’s the most honest and loving person I know. He’s committed, patient, and has been nothing but supportive in and of my growth. I believe we’ve made each other better. Yin and Yang. We balance each other out.
PI: What makes Alexa a good partner?
Kurt: In addition to being unbreakably loyal and always having my back, the one characteristic about Alexa that makes her the greatest partner is that she encourages me to be myself. I have felt like an outsider my entire life, and the struggle to fit in with any particular group has made me continuously question my existence. From the start, Alexa appreciated me the way I was, and for the first time ever, I felt as if I didn’t have to repress my personality or emotions.
PI: You two grew up together in rural West Virginia. What was that like?
Alexa: There were pros and cons. More cons than pros, but West Virginia will always have a piece of us. It was rough being an artist in a small town. We both relate to that feeling — that of being sort of an outsider. Even before we were technically labeled as artists in our younger years, we both relate to not ever fitting in wherever we were. I wouldn’t change anything when it comes to growing up in West Virginia, because the roughness and not growing up with a lot definitely contributed to who we are as people today. I still can’t believe we found each other in that little old town and make certain to express that every time someone asks me, “How did you two meet?!”
Kurt: There were positives and negatives. Outside of a handful of supportive people, the environment wasn’t very friendly with originality or diversity. For creatives, towns like ours really made you examine yourself, your interests, and your dreams. You had to be tough. On the flip, Alexa and I learned a lot about how to navigate difficult personalities and uncomfortable situations. There weren’t many opportunities available, so we were forced to make the most out of what resources we had. I feel as if those struggles helped us become more resilient and adventurous as both individuals and as a couple.
PI: COVID-19 has put its share of stress on lots of partnerships. How have you two fared?
Alexa: Kurt and I have pretty much lived together since 2012, and have rarely spent more than a week or two out of that time away from each other. Being around each other even more with the pandemic actually brought us closer. It was a relief having someone by my side through one of the strangest, most tragic times in history. After being very careful for an entire year, we unfortunately contracted the virus along with some family members at the beginning of 2021. This was one of the most stressful times of our entire lives — taking care of each other and my family combined. It was a lot, but we made it through, like we always do.
Kurt: As far as our businesses, we were both coming off of the best year of our careers before the pandemic. We had hoped to continue building on that in 2020, so to say it was a major bummer would be an understatement. Fortunately, we grew even closer during the time off, and it forced us to step back and reevaluate the speed and absurdity of our schedules. After having to double up on gigs in 2021, we decided to scale back heavily on work and focus more on what we feel is most important to us.
PI: As both of you are creatives, how does the other’s creativity inspire your own?
Alexa: It’s hard to separate him from his projects because he puts so much of himself into each one. I’m just inspired by him as a person and always have been. I’m inspired by his work ethic and determination to always create new things. He’s always trying to better himself and he never gives up. We lift each other up and learn from each other; plus, we’re not afraid to tell one or the other when an idea or something we’re working on could be improved. There are no waters to be disrupted. We rise together.
Kurt: Alexa’s photography and understanding of art improve every year. She has an incredible eye for light and knows how to envoke genuine emotion, no matter the circumstance. Her determination to deliver the best work possible inspires me to continually seek new perspectives and higher creative standards. That aspect of our relationship keeps things fresh and allows me to stay open to bold ideas I might not have considered otherwise.
By Staff | Photographs by Hong Sar
By Carmen Gentile
By Kecia Bal
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