Alissa Ohashi is a lens-based, mixed media artist working with experimental photography, collage, and installation. Ohashi is currently based in Columbus, Ohio where she attends Columbus College of Art & Design as a second-year MFA candidate with a projected graduation date of May 11, 2019. She is technically self-taught in photography and is exploring the deconstruction of identity and the reconstruction and reintegration of memory. Ohashi primarily works in portraiture in both commercial and fine art. She was selected as one of five ArtPop 2018 artists and has her documentary work featured on a billboard on the west side of Columbus, Ohio. Ohashi has also been published in the Columbus International Airport, Journal of Dental Technology, as well as other publications. She has also been featured in multiple exhibitions around the United States and Germany.
Who We Are
This body of work investigates my relationship with my father and my unfamiliar Japanese heritage through the deconstruction of identity and the reconstruction and reintegration of memory. My father was not present in my life between the ages of four and 19, and our relationship suffered turmoil due to unresolved resentment from my younger self, however, today, our relationship is harmonious after many years of learning how to be father and daughter. I am also exploring transgenerational trauma dating back to World War II – a time when my grandfather and his family were forced to live as prisoners at Tule Lake Japanese Internment Camp, located in northern California. These are subjects that have been unfamiliar to me and therefore I am investigating in hopes of learning more about my personal and familial identities.
To the best of my recollection, I have had this deep, unknown connection to imprisonment and freedom simultaneously. Whether it’s been my conscious past experiences mentally holding me hostage or the unveiling of familial history where my ancestors and relatives were physically held captive in communal, racist confinement, this innate feeling has captivated me to the present point of artistic, personal discovery which has been explored in ‘Who We Are.’
This work has recently lived as 36’x16′ installation piece comprised of over 170 images and objects. I draw from the idea of ‘the art of gaman’ which is a term coined by the Smithsonian to describe Japanese art found in the internment camps. The word ‘gaman’ roughly translates to ‘to bear the unbearable with dignity and grace.’ I use this idea to delve into my past traumas, both which I have lived consciously and those that I have inherited from my ancestors. Part of my creation process is to perform various techniques to show the mending and breaking of my past relationship with father. First, I create self-portraiture to perform his assumed identity by imitating old, film photos of him. Next, I combine our faces in photoshop, print the new image then manually rip it apart and put it back together through manual techniques such as stitching, stapling, taping, photo-transfer, etc. I also digitally insert myself into old photos – which I received from a cousin who I found on ancestory.com. – of my grandfather and great-grandfather who lived through this experience.
To view more of Alissa Ohashi’s work please visit her website.