Where are you from and where do you currently reside?
Adam is from Syracuse, NY and Terri is from Atlanta, GA. We both reside in Brooklyn, NY.
How did your name come to be?
CHIAOZZA, pronounced “CHOW-zah” like wowza! or yowza! is a combination of our last names, CHIAO and (FRE)ZZA. We mostly use this name in our design projects, but it is a blurry line between what we consider art and what we consider design sometimes.
When did your partnership begin and how did it develop? How has it changed since then?
We met at a karaoke bar in Chinatown in 2011. We started working together that winter after some successful collaborations in the kitchen, including an eternity stew, a pink frittata, and some pancakes that led to our first series “Pancake Prints”, where we rolled ink over pancakes and made mono-prints on paper. Since then, we have become much more rigorous in our art and design practices, but the spirit of play has never left.
From your site-specific installations to your miniature Lump Nubbins, we love the unique, collaborative approach to each of your projects. What are a few of the themes you explore in your works and how do you approach innovation?
We are interested in the idea of Play as a collaborative tool; as a way to shake things up, shift your perspective on reality. It lays a fertile ground for experimentation as well, because we are more willing to try anything when it comes to play. Some projects build directly off the structure of a game, where we each make moves back and forth (such as our “Exquisite Plant Collages”), whereas other projects explore the spirit of play in the study of form, color, concept, etc. Our plant-inspired projects like “Lump Nubbins” and “Paper Plants” are inspired by humans’ relationship with nature—something that we often consider as outside of ourselves but in reality we are part of.
In addition to your fine art practice, you also work on many other design projects. Can you tell us more about your upcoming projects?
This past year we have had the opportunity to experiment in new mediums, such as ceramics and film. We hope to continue some of the explorations we started then and carry them forth in our practice, which is very interdisciplinary. We will also be working on a limited-edition wood block print this spring, and we are preparing for a solo show of an immersive paper forest this summer.
We are interested in the idea of Play as a collaborative tool; as a way to shake things up, shift your perspective on reality.
— Adam Frezza & Terri Chiao
How do reality and imagination intersect in your work?
In “Paper Plants” for example, we build sculptures of imagined plant forms. Even though some of the forms, patterns, colors, structures may seem completely fictional, they are inspired by real plants in the physical world. Even the most fluorescent unnatural color comes from organic substances at some point. In this project in particular, we feel very connected to the work of horticulturists in the process of making our plants—cultivation of nature as an act of imagination coming into reality.