Meet Nick Azzaro

Nick Azzaro is a sculptor and assemblage artist utilizing found and inexpensive school objects to model the accessibility of his practice and process to the students he works with. As a former public school teacher and current teaching artist for Neutral Zone and grant projects, he mobilizes expressive play with copy paper; tempera paint; and abandoned books and objects; adhered to surfaces with wheatpaste, an inexpensive concoction of boiled flour, sugar, and water long used for street signage. As a practicing sculptor, Azzaro’s work is a commentary on the systemic opportunity gaps in public education as witnessed in the classroom.


“I will create 2D and 3D pieces using the pages of out-of-use school library books and wheatpaste. This body of work will comment on the problematic content of school material from decades past, as well as student accessibility. 

Creating this type of work was born out of necessity. I have over 20 years of commercial and fine art photography experience and successfully built a photography program at Ypsilanti Community High School. My objective was to make photography more accessible, and I achieved that through institutional backing. The lockdowns created by the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to an end when I could no longer meet with students or put cameras in their hands. It also further strained the day-to-day operational fragilities under-resourced schools regularly function with and magnified the challenges our students already dealt with.

Working with materials that already exist in schools or are easy to acquire within public school art programs became my parameters. Wheatpaste, which is a glue made from flour and water, and paper, specifically the pages of out-of-use school library books, are what I most often work with. Paper saturated in wheatpaste can be added to nearly any surface and selectively removed, and can be repeated several times to create multiple layers. It can also be used to make molds of objects, as paper saturated in wheatpaste becomes rigid once dry.

Many of the books I have access to were printed decades ago and hold problematic information that once influenced countless minds. I will engage with their words using black markers and tempera paint, and enrich my statement with what I choose to show as well as what I choose to remove from the finished pieces.” – NICK AZZARO

Learn More

Manufactured Classroom – Nick Azzaro

Beyond 23 – Nick Azzaro and Ypsilanti Community High School Student Artists

Dumb-Dumb Desk and Corresponding Dunce Cap – Nick Azzaro

Educution – Nick Azzaro