Nick and Yen Azzaro are producers of ephemeral art with emphasis on social activism.
Sticks and Stones, an orchestrated street happening, took place on the evening of August 5th, 2016 near the intersection of Washington and Ferris Streets in Ypsilanti. A response to negative vitriol about the city and its inhabitants, the event sought to put a face to the disparaging comments found on MLive collected for almost two years. Nearly 30 participants held posters of quotes, copied verbatim, from various articles in a line formation on the sidewalk and later in the street. The responses from participants and viewers alike were wrought with emotion.
The Azzaros have created and exhibited a number of community driven events ranging from transforming their previous studio into a camera obscura, to holding readings and panel discussions for partners like 826michigan. In 2015 and 2016, they held 10 exhibitions of works by regional painters, photographers, printmakers, sculptors and illustrators.
As a recipient of the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs grant with additional support from Engage at EMU in 2016, Yen obtained twelve adult tricycles from the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit (which were likely used on automotive factory floors). Over five months they were refurbished at Chapelle Elementary School in Ypsilanti by representatives from Washtenaw Sheriff's Department, Ypsilanti Community Schools Automotive Repair, Cultivate Coffee and Taphouse, Ypsilanti District Library, DIYpsi, Shortpunk Cycleworks, Eastern Michigan University and FLY Children's Art Center.
The completed fleet of tricked out trikes were introduced at the Ypsilanti Heritage 4th of July Parade and won the Peoples' Choice Award. Each trike now belongs to the organization that worked on it.
Pop X 2015 was the inaugural launch of the outdoor art festival at Liberty Plaza in Ann Arbor organized by Ann Arbor Art Center. As a hub for transient activity, Nick focused on highlighting the people who normally inhabit the Plaza.
Nick Azzaro received the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs grant in 2015. He taught the photography exhibition process to a student from elementary, middle and high school levels. From photographing a thematic set of images to curating, editing, framing and marketing, Front Street showcased the talents and learned skills of three driven students.
Nick continues to work on a series of photography and mixed media addressing the experience of African-Americans and marginalized populations in this country. For more information, please contact Nick here.
Nick and Yen are the recipients of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation In Our Neighborhood grant. The renewable $25,000 grant makes it possible to engage Eastern Michigan University Bright Futures students in after school performance, marketing, and photography training. Student artists are given a chance to produce “interruptions” in public that spark curiosity and break social barriers. Locations this past year included the Ypsilanti District Library, Ann Arbor Summer Festival, and EMU Student Center. You can learn more at ypsifidelity.com