Meet Alisha Funkhouser, our new Art/Gallery Director who officially took the reins last week. Holland is way excited to have Alisha on board and have no doubt she’s gonna kill it as our new Art/Gallery Director. This position is a big one–she’s responsible for: overseeing all of our visual art-oriented projects and endeavors; managing the Holland Gallery; running our Gallery Intern program and Micro Gallery; working with the Gallery Committee to curate, install, and produce all our exhibits; coordinate cool projects like Scholastic Art Awards, Young Blood, and Stranger Show; bring new educational and alternative arts programming to Holland (like panels, speakers, cool projects) and generally everything else (which is a lot!) that comes under the art/s facet of Holland (promotion, film, special events, fundraising, etc.). Many of you know and love her already (and can attest to how rad she is) but for those that don’t, we asked her a few questions so you could get to know her a bit.

An Interview with Holland’s new Art/Gallery Director


Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up and what kinds of things were you into as a kid?

I am a native Nevadan, born in Reno and raised in the suburban sprawl of the Sparks/Spanish Springs area. As a kid my main interests were Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Ninja Turtles, playing Sega with my cousin, riding bikes, reading Goosebumps, collecting rocks, making KWNZ mixed tapes, and trying to sell 25 cent drawings to my classmates and neighbors. My teenage years were filled with a lot more angst. I grew a stronger appreciation for music and art and spent all of my camp counselor paychecks on CDs, records and art supplies.

Has art always played an important part of your life?

Art has very much so played a huge role throughout my life. As far back as I can remember I’ve always had a strong innate desire to create and make things.  As a child a lot of my time was spent drawing Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters and making pop-up books. It wasn’t until high school that I became interested in photography and “fine art” practices. My college years definitely solidified those interests when I realized art was something you could actually major in and potentially make a living from.

It seems like you’re always making things and doing things—do you have antsy hands?

You could say I have antsy hands. I am always working on one project or another and always multiple projects at once. The process of making has become the best outlet of expression for me and I find that when there are long periods when nothing creative is happening I tend to be more moody and down in the dumps. There is just something about the process that provides the perfect release. It becomes extremely gratifying, after thinking up an idea and experimenting and researching and figuring out how to make it happen, when everything comes together and you’ve put something new out into the world. It’s rewarding. Even if I end up hating what I put out in the world it is still important to go through that process because you never know where that may lead you later on down the road. John Cage said it best, “The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It is the people who do all the work all the time who eventually catch onto things. You can fool the fans – but not the players.” I try to stick to this rule as much as I can.

From a life-sized playhouse to a furry monster rug to some amazing photographs, you have quite a range in your own work. What are some of your favorite projects?

I always enjoy working and experimenting with different materials and mediums on all the different projects that I do. It helps keep the process from becoming too stagnate. Typically if I’m working on a photo project, in which much of my time is spent in front of a computer, then I am most likely also working on another project that is more hands on such as embroidery, or print making. It provides a nice balance so I don’t ever become burnt out on one process of art making. As for favorite projects, I’d have to say that Wunderfort, my giant cardboard playhouse, is up there in the top. It was a fun project holds a lot of nostalgic sentiment and was meant to reactivate a sense of childhood creativity and wonder. Kind of a channeling of the inner child and being inspired by what inspired me as a kid. I am also really excited about the Sun Valley photo series I am currently working on. It has been really interesting to explore the area with my camera and to start talking to people to uncover the history of the Sun Valley community and landscape.

We’ve always dug your style. What sorts of things shape you and inspire you?

I am always inspired by ideas of nostalgia, personal histories, myths and folklore.

Are you obsessed with pizza?

Oh yes, I do have a bit of a pizza obsession. It’s only been my favorite food since forever. If I had to choose one thing to eat for the rest of my life it would be pizza. There’s just something so comforting about it and as an 80’s baby, pizza imagery has been engrained in my DNA.

You’ve been super involved in our community—teaching art at both a college-level (at UNR) and to littles (at Kids n Art); to photographing major events and projects in and around town for publications, organizations, and companies; to serving as our Workshop Coordinator; to having your own art practice….what do you see in our community that excites you?

I am super excited to see the emergence of so many new and different art organizations and collectives that have sprout up throughout the community in the past couple of years; places like Reno Art Works, Cuddleworks, Valley Arts and the Generator.  It’s awesome to see these types of organizations beginning to thrive in Reno and to see more of the community coming out to support artists.

What are you most likely doing when not at work?

When I am not working I am most likely hanging out with my dog, working in my garden, going on photo adventures, or cruising the interweb.

What are some national or international trends or projects that have been piquing your interest lately?

One project that I came across recently that I am completely inspired by is the Willard Suitcase project. When the Willard Psychiatric Center in Willard, NY shut it’s doors in 1995 a former employee came across an attic containing over 400 suitcases from past patients full of personal treasures and possessions.  Most of the patients never left the psychiatric center and the the suitcases are the only memory left of them. The New York State Museum has since retrieved the suitcases for their permanent collection and photographer Jon Crispin has been documenting every case inside and out including all the momentos kept inside.

Do you have a favorite show/exhibit/workshop and/or memory at Holland?

Oh boy! There have been so many fun times and good memories. Id have to say that Forage last summer totally killed it, especially the pool party. It was an amazing sight to behold when everyone jumped in the pool and began splashing and thrashing around (almost in unison) to the Ramones cover band. Another favorite memory at Holland was the Tri X Noise exhibit a few years back. It was rad getting a chance to meet Bill Daniel, a photographer I have admired since I was a teenager, and hear him talk about his work and experiences in person.

What are you looking forward to you working on in or bringing in in your new position?

I am really looking forward to meeting new artists and having the opportunity to work with them in the gallery. I am also excited to be working on a couple different fundraising events/programs for the Holland Gallery.