Lost and Found: Allison Funk Rediscovers Her Passion for Art

Tue Jun 26, 2018 at 10:45 AM

Allison Funk, Class of 2011

Higher education is often about self-discovery and changing course. When Allison Funk came to Blue Ridge in 2008, straight from Riverheads High School, she planned to study business. After her first accounting class, however, she yearned for something to feed her creative side.

“I was all about art in high school,” said Allison. “After realizing that accounting wasn’t for me, I explored web design. Then I decided to stay an extra year to study computer graphics and video production, which re-sparked my creativity.”

Allison completed a BRCC transfer degree in 2011 and set off for William and Mary to double major in psychology and art, graduating in 2014. While there, she discovered the ancient art of woodcut printmaking.

“I had never heard of printmaking,” said Allison. “My drawing professor encouraged me to enroll in his relief printmaking class, after observing me struggle with my 2D work. He knew I preferred sculpture and that I would appreciate the process. Woodcut printmaking, in a short time, became my favorite medium, helping me to grow in all areas of my artistic endeavors. For me, it is the best of both worlds - a 3D process that leads to a 2D product.”

Printmaking is an art form requiring patience and focus for the many required steps in the process, and the mistakes that can happen at any point in the process. Depending on the size and scope, a project can take Allison from 10 to 30 hours to complete.

“I like the complexity and the tedium of it. I get really focused and lose myself in what I’m doing, but in a good way,” she said.

When Allison returned to BRCC as its artist in residence last spring, she spoke about her art as therapy, noting how creative pursuits can help people deal with life’s difficulties. Her subject matter is often about struggle: some personal, some things friends or family members have endured. Because woodcut is about shadow and light, it changed the way she looks at things.

“There is a stigma about mental health issues, such as depression,” she noted. “It’s getting better but it’s still there. There isn’t as much comfort as there should be in opening up verbally. I work through negativity and hardships using art as a release, to turn darkness into something positive. This is true for many artists. It is symbolically the beauty found within the struggle.”