Alissa Ohashi

(Ohio) Artist Website Artist-in-Residence March Residency Year: 2022


Alissa Ohashi is a lens-based, mixed media artist working with experimental photography, collage, printmaking and installation. Ohashi received her MFA from Columbus College of Art & Design and is an Adjunct Professor of Digital Photography at the University of Cincinnati. She was recently a Fellow at the Columbus Printed Arts Center and is exploring the deconstruction of identity and the reconstruction and reintegration of memory through philosophical, psychological and spiritual lenses. She was selected as an ArtPop award recipient and has had her documentary work featured on a billboard on the westside of Columbus, Ohio, as well as in the documentary video, “Called to the Front Lines.” Ohashi has been published in a variety of art publications and has been featured in multiple exhibitions, both domestically and internationally.

One of the questions we ask artists applying to be a resident here is “Why Surel’s Place?” For Ohashi, there was an unexpected addition to creating here. She was 19 years old when she learned of her Japanese heritage and discovered some of this family in Caldwell.

“I was fortunate to meet my cousin, Mike, whom, previously, I had only spoken with through email. I began writing to his mother – my great aunt, Takako around 12 years ago. I was planning on meeting Takako during my time in Boise, but unfortunately, she passed just months before I arrived. I was disappointed that I didn’t have a chance to meet her in person, but am grateful that I had the opportunity to connect with Mike and his wife, Sue.”

Her ancestral ties to Japanese internment camps during World War II peaked her interest in our “Green Box,” which we believe to be a mobile field office from that war. Alissa expanded her installation at Surel’s Place centered on the idea of “sonder” to include a community engagement installation in the Green Box. This installation strived to make a small part of sonder visible – that each random passerby is living a an epic story that continues invisibly around you.

“I’m hoping that members of the community will visit the Green Box and participate in braiding yarn and connecting it with other yarn creations that have been installed by previous individuals that have visited the Green Box”: she said. “I’m excited to see this idea manifest through different perspectives of people living in and passing through Garden City.”

Though a lens-based artist, she has challenged herself to work with her hands rather than her camera. 

“I am exploring different concepts, including ‘sonder’ and the ‘child archetype’ and have reverted my exploration of making to foundational elementary-style crafts including paper mache and braiding yarn. Additionally, my Mema passed away in November of last year in a car accident while living with her. As it was a heart-breaking loss for our family, I have been exploring these ideas through her family archive of photos and letters and utilizing this practice to welcome and process grief.”

She gave a workshop aimed at helping people explore their own “personal myth” through mixed-media collage. The class explored the the idea of “sonder” – which is the profound realization that each individual, including strangers you pass on the street, is living their own unique life that is as complex as your own, and that they are the main character in their story.

“I was inspired by the collages that everyone made, and moved by the stories that they were gracious enough to share with me about the ideas behind their work,” she said near the end of her residency. “I am currently holding a similar workshop with students at Frank Church High School and am excited to introduce potentially new ideas and to see what they create!”  Her work at the school, Boise’s alternative high school, was through our pARTner Schools program in which we are able to send some of our artists-in-residence into local schools.

March 19, 2022

sonder  |  Alissa Ohashi
April 4, 2022