At Boston’s newest public art exhibit, seeing is hearing

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun and artist Adam Frezza take in the new art installation at Richardson Plaza.
Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun (right) and artist Adam Frezza take in the new art installation at Richardson Plaza. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

First, you notice the colors. The organic blue is dappled with bright orange leaves adorning a large round horseshoe turned lucky side up—with two giant cherries on top.

And so it is only natural that you take the hard left from Huntington Avenue and walk along Richardson Plaza near the School of Law, as more colors and shapes pull you along.

The newest art installation on the Boston campus, titled “Lumpy Notes,” is the creation of Terri Chiao and Adam Frezza, whose surnames have been pieced together to form their studio, CHIAOZZA.

“The organic form is generally lumpy; and the notes, we started to think of them musically, like little chimes throughout the corridor here,” explains Frezza. “So it’s almost like visual sounds.”

Last week they assembled the seven oversized pieces that have transformed the plaza into a walkway of playful music.

“Thinking about the way notes look on a page, the visual tells you it’s music,” says Frezza, who last year was invited with Chiao to create a proposal for the space by Thomas Vannatter, Northeastern’s public art manager. “With this particular courtyard area and the grid of the concrete, and then these pieces fitting within that scale—we were looking at a sheet of [musical] objects in a field.’’

The installation, two years in the making, revolves around seven large, colorful sculptures. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

The shapes and colors strike a variety of notes as they are encountered and you navigate around them.

“A visual experience has a rhythm and a meter to it,” says Chiao. “When things are slightly off and unexpected, that’s when you start to pay attention.

“If we can get someone to wonder, ‘What is it?’ then that is a good question to translate to many parts of one’s life—to not get too stuck in thinking you know what’s going on, keeping your mind elastic, and being open to looking at things in different ways.”

The vivid exhibit arrives at a fortuitous time of year, as the days grow shorter and darker.

“I’m curious how they’ll look in the snow,” Chiao says.

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