Original Interview: November 2016

Chiaozza

Adam Frezza & Terri Chiao from Chiaozza, have a cross-disciplinary approach to sculpture, incorporating bright, unexpected colors, optimistic shapes, and warm materials. They mention the concept of play is integral to their process and to follow your gut more than your brain and not to worry about making it perfect every time. Also the importance of being present.

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?
T: Every form of play is a creative experience. Whether it was building villages for trolls and Legos, pretending to be an early American pioneer in the backyard, or staying up late to rearrange furniture in my bedroom, these moments allowed me to create a world as I saw it, which is much the way it is now being a practicing artist and designer.

A: As a kid, I can remember loving to draw. I can’t remember specifics. I colored the bottom of my dads feet black. Drew on the walls with my poo and called it “Charlie Brown.” It was impossible for my parents not to notice—I was always using stuff. I have a memory of sitting [in the car] outside of a building with a weird sculpture outside. And my dads outside talking to a woman, and she’s shaking her head no —it’s an art school, and she said I was too young, and I said that’s OK.

I have always been fascinated by the discovery of objects. I feel I hold on to the ‘not knowing’ aspects of a child’s wonderment about things and their functions. Peeling bark from a tree to learn it has a skin, unstitching a baseball to learn it is filled with string, watching a helium balloon lessen its floating powers until it resembles my own height are all examples of my curiosity about the way things work. What else can a thing be?

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
T: I studied art history at Brown University (undergrad) and architecture (masters degree) at Columbia University. My first job after college was working as a program assistant at an architecture non-profit called The Architectural League, in New York City, where I helped to plan and put on lectures from design professionals every week. Through this experience, I was exposed to the world of architecture and design in NYC from the designer’s perspective, and I realized that I really identified with this perspective. This played a huge role in helping me decide I wanted to be someone who makes things in the built environment. A year later, I applied to graduate school for architecture to help make that happen.

A: I studied Fine Art undergrad at Flagler College and Painting & Drawing (masters degree) at the University of Florida. I’ve been pursuing an art career for about 10 years. It has been a combination of simple jobs and a continued commitment to making and thinking about the art I want to produce. For years, I was unable to support myself with my art. One of the biggest lessons that I carry with me is patience.

Chiaozza - The Design Kids

Chiaozza - The Design Kids

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.
We have a cross-disciplinary approach to sculpture, incorporating bright, unexpected colors, optimistic shapes, and warm materials such as paper pulp, clay, and wood, to prompt curiosity about the objects we create and their real and imagined histories.

We are just as inspired by the colors of a sun-bleached desert landscape as we are a turkey sandwich with mustard and mayonnaise. We like to think our work brings to light to the wondrous, the humorous, and the magical in human experience, from small to vast. Playful forms populate our studio practice, including lumpy coral-like masses and colorful architectural constructions that explore the visual space between flatness and dimensionality.

The concept of play is integral to our process — as a way of working together within a loosely structured arena, as a tool for shifting our momentary understanding of reality, and as an illumination of brightness and immediacy that speaks to the human spirit.

What does a typical working day include for you right now?
We are often working on many different types of projects all at once. For instance, right now we are working on some new painted outdoor lumpy sculptures, a wooden deck to display them on, a proposal for an upcoming large-scale installation in California, and various smaller commissions for private clients.

This means that in order to get anything done we have to make a schedule for ourselves, what we call “The Class Schedule”. We make a new one at the beginning of every week. We try to set up blocks of time where we will work on one thing for 3 hours, then switch and have lunch, then have a little free time to do whatever we want, and then work on another thing for the last 3-4 hours of our work day. Some weeks we are working around the clock and hardly sleeping, just to get things done on time, and other weeks are more relaxed, where “work” will consist also of going to see art shows and friends’ studios, taking a walk in the park, or hiking outside the city. Everything we do feeds back into our practice, so we are pretty much always working, and also usually having fun 🙂

Chiaozza - The Design Kids

Chiaozza - The Design Kids

What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?
T: Have confidence, be patient, take risks, try new things, follow your gut more than your brain. Whatever you’re doing, do the best you can, but don’t worry about making it perfect every time. There’s something to be learned from every experience.

A: If we are working on something we care about and believe in, it will eventually be cared for and believed in by others.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
T: Be present. Even if you have to do something you don’t want to do, for instance at a job, find the way to do it that will make you engaged with it. This way you can continue to discover things, grow your creativity, and be open to learning new things. One of the most exciting things about art is that it is a relationship that you will have your entire life. You can take your time to feed it and grow it, it will always be yours.

A: Patience, perseverance, incurable optimism.

Website: eternitystew.com
Instagram: @chiaozza

Chiaozza - The Design Kids

Chiaozza - The Design Kids