Chris Piazza

Contact Information:


Artist Statement:

I make sculptures that include puppets based on characters from the Italian commedia dell’arte. The work is highly crafted and of museum quality. It involves so many different skills I've been referred to as "a guild of one." However, I'm entirely self-taught. Many of my skills were acquired by way of various forms of employment. When I first came to NYC, at the age of 17, I supported myself as a seamstress. Since then, among other jobs, I was a textile designer, busboy, shop model, foot messenger, tile setter, telephone receptionist, short order cook, newspaper writer and decorative painter. I restored 19th century houses, learning carpentry and masonry, and for many years, I ran a plumbing company in Brooklyn with my ex-husband. I consider all these experiences an extensive education which I apply to the art I'm now making.

My work is both simple and complicated. On the one hand, I make jointed figures, which are very easy to appreciate. On the other hand, by placing these puppets in boxes I create an "object", a figure in a box that's evocative of many other objects of art created throughout the centuries that were surreal and often religious in nature. By working so long on each sculpture, developing the idea's through extensive research, and employing authentic antique techniques and materials, each sculpture becomes a rich tapestry of elements, a collection of wonderful details, almost like a museum in itself. My work is about the borderline between art and history presented in a manner similar to the construction of a musical symphony, in which various themes combine to make a complex, harmonious whole out of entirely separate elements.

The Cabbage Eater
puppet - 3' tall box - 7' tall x 2' x 2'
materials - antique glass beads, brass passementrie and trimmings

puppet - 7 1/2' tall box - 10 1/2' tall x 4' x 4'
materials - antique gelatin sequins, tinsel, blown glass beads, silver leaf, aluminum sheeting

Froggy Moore
puppet - 3' tall box - 10' tall x 2' x 2'
materials - 1930's dressmaker's horsehair and theatrical costume fabric,
celluloid belt buckles, wax edelweiss, Victorian house moldings, wire, milk paint

The Gardner to the Iluminati - a.k.a. Licensed Electrician
puppet - 4 1/2' tall box - 10' tall x 4' x 4'
materials - antique fabric with glass glitter - antique glass beads -
copper foil, copper leaf, porch post finials and refrigerator tubing

puppet - 3 1/2' tall box - 7 1/2' tall x 2' x 2'
materials - antique shell buttons

Mr. Black
puppet - 4' tall box - 10 1/2' tall x 3' x 3'
materials - antique cast iron sewing machine foot treadles -
antique shoe laces and paper wrappers - "high button" shoe buttons

ApplicationPrevious Recipients | George Sugarman ArtworksAbout the Foundation