Unbound But Thoughtful: Chiizii on the Influence of Her Global Upbringing

The artist and illustrator fuses found imagery with sun-kissed colour to create work that encompasses the warmth of Nigeria, energy of New York and abundant chaos of the city.

Nwanne Nwanyi

Born in London to a Nigerian Igbo family then raised in New York, Chiizii’s hyper-saturated imagery catches your eye no matter what surface it appears upon. Neither clothes, canvases or prints are immune to the artful composition of pattern and imagery, carefully sewn together to convey just the right amount of spontaneity. Fusion feeds the soul of her work—whether that’s a whimsical mix of cultural influences or disloyalty to a particular medium. Self-described as “unbound but thoughtful”, it’s the loud, cosmopolitan attitude imbued in Chiizii’s work that ensures you’re unable to look away.

After returning to the place of her birth in 2014, she embarked on a Fashion Textiles Print BA at London College of Fashion, followed by a Masters in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art in 2019. Heavily informed by this background in textiles, particularly the possibilities of print and the importance of layering, her visual language has graced the walls of Here East, Queen of Hoxton and Ogilvy UK.

“It’s work that is constantly in flux— documenting movement while positioned on the brink of something even bigger”

She explains that “different mediums together best communicate the full picture of whatever I am explaining… Collage making has been a primary method of mapping out the findings of my research.” She cultivates a diverse set of inspirations, resulting in layers of meaning built up to create work with immense depth. This is particularly true of Chiizii’s Ada Nkoli project, which celebrates the realisation of the self, both sonically and visually. “The visual collage work and audio pieces for Ada Nkoli both informed each other. The content of the audio pieces are interviews and discussions with family members… [which] informed images chosen for collage work. It’s made in a way that if you’re looking at the work and listening at the same time, there should be greater clarity on the stance of the collection.”

The collages feel both like the culmination and the beginnings of a project—that an intense journey of research has birthed the image, and that its future could become anything from sculpture to fabric design. It’s work that is constantly in flux, documenting movement while positioned on the brink of something even bigger.

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  • Left: Bia Ego One Right: Egusi

Chiizii’s global upbringing also means that social commentary underpins everything that she creates. She admits that her work wouldn’t exist without these inspirations: “Its so specific to what I’ve seen and where I’ve been, I wouldn’t have the mind I do without it”, she reflects. A scroll down her Instagram page reveals a curated visual diary a luminescent utopia, featuring everything from lo-fi scanner art t the anarchy of punk and the spirited colours of Igbo culture. There’s a determined confidence to the compositions, which Chiizii declares is inspired by her personal faith. “I am 100 percent sure that the vision and talent that I have are God-given,” she says. “I am sure that my creator wants me to create, with the very specific vision and interests that I have.”

When your work is as bright as the sun, only success can follow. I ask Chiizii what her dream project would be, and she launches into a thought that’s like a window into her mind. “I would go on tour to show [my work], like a musician. The actual solo show would be an immersive experience in itself, with an afterparty. I would also record the audience’s engagement with the work, breaking down the psychology in it, which would be shown at the final stop of the tour. It’d probably be focused on the fun of club culture—Black or Nigerian specifically.”

All images courtesy of the artist