THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Month: October, 2016

Mark Williams Hoelscher

Mark Williams Hoelscher

 

Date of Interview: October 20, 2016

Name: Mark Williams Hoelscher

Age: 24

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Location: Washington, DC

 

What are you passionate about?

I’m really passionate about telling people’s stories. I think that finding people whose life experiences are representative of larger social economic or social issues and telling those stories in a engaging and beautiful way can actively make social change. I think that there are people out there who are trying to make the world a better place, but don’t necessarily have the audience to get their message to the general public. One reason is because a lot of people who are doing important work are so focused in on what they’re doing, that the communication side isn’t at the front of their mind. I think it’s really important to have someone whose job it is to try and make people’s stories engaging, and to try and produce them in a way that people will want to pay attention to.

How do you go about telling these narratives?

I’m a photographer and filmmaker. Images are so important to the public consciousness, and it’s possible to make stuff that has real impact. I think that in the age of social media, where people are constantly bombarded with imagery, the only way to break through and make people interested in what you’re doing is to create something immediately eye catching, beautiful and cohesive. You gotta get people to stop scrolling down facebook or instagram and take a second to really look. One thing about Instagram and Facebook images is that they appear authentic and raw, but there’s something valuable about a well crafted and well produced story

Do you think there’s a difference between photographers using media and taking photos for the memories?

Everyone who takes photos is a photographer. The device that’s used (whether a cell phone or an expensive DSLR) isn’t really what makes someone a photographer. It’s the process. Photography is about intent and purpose. There’s a difference between going around snapping pictures without thinking, and giving considering to what you’re taking a picture of, why you’re taking a picture of it, and what information you can deliver through your photographs. When you’re taking pictures in an intentional way you’re crafting a story.  You can use story and process to make social impact.

What is your story?

I’ve always had this innate desire to document. I think that photography is less about showing a moment and more about showing the perfect moment, the decisive moment. I think my story is my search or desire to find perfection that doesn’t really exist in real life. Trying to capture this one frame that shows who someone is or shows what an event felt like to be there. I think I’m looking for truth, but have strongly come to the conclusion that all photographs are lies. Photographs don’t tell the truth, they show the world through one person’s perspective. Photographs document what you wish was true.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual and otherwise.

I think that relationships are how we learn about ourselves. Having them and losing them are how we learn about ourselves. I think you don’t know truly who you are until you go through a really nasty breakup. We’re really social creatures, so having that give and take with having relationships and losing relationships is how we end up knowing who we are.

What is something that you struggle with?

I constantly struggle with the thought that everything I’m working towards is totally bullshit. That nothing I’m doing is important. There are some days I wake up and feel like what I’m working towards is good and positive and meaningful and other days I wake up and I think that nothing is real, art is bullshit and meaningless, and that is no way that I can make a difference. I also struggle with the idea that deep down, all my work is all about me. I want to say I’m out there making art because I want to make a difference but I worry about the fact that I might just be super selfish and everything I do ends up being all about myself. The reason I worry about it is because I don’t want it to be true, but when I find myself posting photographs on my website or social media and getting likes and getting new followers and I get excited by that- I worry that I’m on this self obsessed quest for self validation.

Clove Roses

Clove Roses

 

Date of Interview: October 14, 2016

Name: Clove Roses

Age: 23

Pronouns: They/Them

Location: Philadelphia, PA

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

Ooh, I’ve been showering every day recently, just because I wasn’t like, living anywhere for the past month. So being able to take a shower in a house that’s mine has been super exciting. Umm, and I don’t know I don’t bathe as often, but I probably will more now.

If you were an underwater sea creature, what would you be?

I’m thinking a manatee. ‘Cause they’re like these beautiful fat like mammals that people think are mermaids. Or a siren, because they lure men to shore with their songs and then kill them, so…

What are you passionate about?

Umm, a whole lot of things… I think recently I’ve been trying to find a way to focus my passion because I care about all these different things and then overload myself and can’t really do anything effective. And I think what I’m really trying to focus on is holistic healthcare. People don’t have access to basic understandings of how their bodies work, and basic health knowledge.  Concerns get dismissed all the time, like when fat people go to doctors who ignore all of their health concerns and try and get them to lose weight instead, umm… and you know, women, queer people, people of color for various reasons have hard times getting their bodies taken care of.  And when you go to professionals, they ask you all these questions and give you no understanding of why they’re asking you them and I want to develop like a practice where people are learning about their bodies as they’re accessing health care that sees them as a complete individual not just a list of symptoms, like herbs, or whatever sort of medicines they want.

What ignited this passion?

Umm, when I lived in Olympia I volunteered at an Herbal Free Clinic there, and there were just so many plants in the Pacific Northwest and I had no idea that these things growing in the wood could heal me. And there was something that was really satisfying about like understanding what makes a plant work and how that plant can interact with my body in beneficial ways. So yeah, I don’t know, it was just really empowering to find that I could find things in the forest to heal myself and I wasn’t relying on going to like doctors that are fucking scary to be around.

Do you think herbal medicine correlates not just with healthcare in the sense of body but with mental health?

Oh, absolutely. I definitely first got into it more for using things like Passionflower or like Anemone for anxiety umm, and I think that like Western medicine is very reliant on the idea of a mind body split. Like you go to doctors and you go to psychologists and they work with diseases and disorders instead of an overall body system, like your symptoms exist in isolation from your environment, emotions, history.  And herbal medicine is something that’s been used in like really every society ever before industrialization, because that what people had access to.  Plants can grow and evolve with humans and with the bacteria that infect us, plants have these vast bodies of knowledge that I don’t think humans can even fully understand.  I read yesterday, in this book on Adaptogens by David Winston, that 25% of modern medicines are still derived from plants used in traditional medicine.  They take one specific phytochemical and then like try to boost the intensity of it, instead of seeing a plant as something that has a lot of different chemicals that all work together.  Modern medicine refuses to see human or plant bodies as complex systems that work together in ways science can’t account for.

What is something that you feel is a big accomplishment that you’ve achieved in your life?

Umm, to stray from plants… I think the biggest thing I’ve achieved is finishing hair school. ’Cause I dropped out of college and kind of felt like I was never going to be able – yeah ever going to be able to complete something.  I’m great at getting things started, but I’m not so good at follow through, so yeah 1500 hours of hair school has been a big deal.

What are you afraid of for yourself?

Uhh ::laughter:: I guess um, kind of like where I’m going now. Because like for the past year I’ve had all of these really clear goals, like I wanted to finish cosmetology school, I wanted to move to Philadelphia, and I was doing this Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program that was pretty intense, and I wanted to finish that.  I did all these things so now I’m like, “Shit, I need new goals! I don’t know what I’m doing at all!” ::laughter:: so, yeah I guess just afraid of, of figuring out what to do next.

What are you afraid of for the world?

Capitalism… ::laughter:: Umm, industrialization, I’m afraid of the world, you know? Like I’m afraid of things that happen day to day and unnoticed and unchallenged. I’m afraid of prisons and mass incarceration, I’m afraid of how institutionalized violence isn’t something most people think about, or even recognize exists. Umm, I think it’s really scary how the world operates in this way where like, we basically still have slavery in the U.S., but like it’s so layered under all these different facades that it’s really insidious.  People, liberals, think we like in this like “post racial society,” but our economy is still built on the forced free labor of incarcerated black people, and destroying indigenous land.  So, yeah. I’m afraid of the world every minute capitalism continues.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual, or otherwise.

Uhh, they’re difficult.  Yeah I don’t know, for most of my life I found all my self worth through my partners, through people finding me sexually or romantically attractive, because as a person with a fat body I was taught that I’m like “lucky” if I can achieve those things, if I can achieve that desire.  More recently I’m like, “fuck that.” I’m like, not trying to just be a thing that only exists for other peoples acceptance, I was celibate and single for like six months last year and like… I think that was a really good space for me to like try to deepen my intimate connections with my platonic friends, with friends that I don’t sleep with.  I’m like trying to learn to value different types of relationships, as well as one with myself.

What is something that you wish you would have known when you were fifteen?

Ooh. Uh, that the assholes you go to high school with don’t fucking matter.  That I should have been pursuing my own interest instead of being so anxious and insecure about what other people thought of me.

 

 

May Pierce

May Pierce

 

Date of Interview: October 7, 2016

Name: May Pierce

Age: 26

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Toledo, OH

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

Every day. Bathing is not a thing though, usually. I don’t know why.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

A slermaid! A sloth-mermaid, of course. Because I love sloths, and I’m a mermaid. I was born to be a mermaid. So it’s a slermaid, there you go. Are you jealous? :laughter:: You might be, I can tell. Were you born near a body of water? Yes, I was born near a body of water. I was born in Israel, I used to walk by the beach all the time. And I used to sneak out of school to go to the beach. Which is a no no, children don’t do that. I guess I should be parental. Uhh, yeah. I like the beach. It’s relaxing, it’s cool, there’s a bunch of sea creatures. Once I lost my sunglasses when I was in South Carolina, and I still believe that an octopus is wearing them. So there’s that. I like octopus, octopi- octopi? Octopi. Octopusses. Meeses, mooses, ::laughter:: who know, the English language is weird.

How many languages do you know?

Two, just Hebrew and English. And then I know how to count to five in Arabic, no big deal.

Do you think thoughts in one language?

Both. Think in both, dream in both. But it’s funny because, when I dream in Hebrew and it’s somebody that would speak English, that’s when I know it’s a dream. So, I figured that one out.

Do you have certain memories or ties to the extent that when you think in one language you feel a certain emotion?

No. No, I was very bummed though when I was hanging out with NSync in a dream and they were speaking in Hebrew. So that my recent emotion. Still a dream to me NSync, no big deal. Just a normal dream every little girl has.

What are you passionate about?

Baking! And cooking healthy food, which is is kind of funny, because they’re not really the same thing. I don’t eat processed sugar, so essentially I’m like a drug dealer. Sugar is a drug. I sell it, and I don’t eat my profits. So there’s that. Some people call me a drug dealer when I give them samples, because it’s addicting. I’m sure kids know that sugars very addicting. So yeah, my names May and I’m a drug dealer of sugar. No big deal, totally normal.

When did you find you passion for cooking and baking?

When I was vegan. So when I was like 20… 20, 19? So I was vegan, and Toledo is pretty sucky when it comes to vegan stuff, so I had to start learning how to cook things that my mom would make, but without dairy or meat or eggs. And then I fell in love with it, I don’t know, it was fun. And I still think it’s fun, and then I went to school for it And working in way too may restaurants to count, and then decided that I want to bake for the rest of my life. Because, people don’t bake well. People will just do cupcakes and cakes, and things that people are familiar with, which is unfortunate. And I understand why, but there is so much more than just cupcakes and cakes in the world. And unless you live in Europe or the Middle East, it seems that people are afraid of it. So I’m here to, you know, not be spooky and you know, shove French macrons in your mouth. ::laughter:: but, not in a sexual way, that would be really weird, I’m just a drug dealer. I will never force you to eat something… maybe. We’ll see. Unless like I make like, mock-liver and you’re like, “I hate mushrooms.” And I’m like, “No you don’t, you just never had mock-liver. And now I can prove you wrong, so” It tastes like chicken, like chicken pate, but it’s just mushrooms, walnuts, honey or you can use agave if you’re against honey, and salt and pepper, and caramelized onions, and it’s amazing. It’s my favorite dip. I just kind of eat it with a spoon, but whatever, we can call it a dip. But yeah, it’s very Jew-y. It’s true, Jews eat a lot of liver. It’s a thing, I don’t know.

What do you think of religion?

I don’t do it. I’m not going to heaven, I’m going straight to hell. So sorry, sorry mom. Uhh, I don’t know. When I was in the 2nd grade, because I lived in Israel, we had to take bible classes, or Torah classes I should call them. Annndd, I sat in my room, I was like 8 years old. I sat in my room and was like, “Is God real?” and was like this is giving me a headache I never want to think if this again, and so that was it. It’s been… it’s been real. ::laughter:: it’s been real for the last 20 years, so that’s my opinion of it. I’m totally fine with other people practicing. You do whatever makes you happy, but it doesn’t make me happy. Do you think heaven and hell exist? Meh… I don’t know. I don’t think about it, I think about today and that’s it. But if I was going somewhere, it definitely wouldn’t be the good place. Whoopsies! I mean whatever, unless like, making yourself happy is not a sin, so then I would be going to the good place. Because I try to make myself happy. So, depends on how you look at it. What makes you happy? Uhh… being successful. Doing what I like to do, selling it to people, and getting compliments about it. But like legitimate compliments, not like, “OH I’m just writing this because I feel bad.” That’s what makes me happy. And making the people around me happy. Not just with sugar, but you know with other things that are not sugar. I don’t know, that’s what makes me happy. Having a clean house makes me happy. Having a good meal makes me happy. Uhh, yeah, food makes me happy. Ok? That’s really the bottom line, food make me happy. My dog makes me happy. She’s cool, she’s not food, ‘cause you know, she’s a dog. My dog should never be food, maybe she’ll be a statue after she dies, at my house, that would be cool. But yeah, I can only hope. Only hope I’ll have the money ::whispers:: she’ll be beautiful. Oh that’d be glorious.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual, or otherwise.

I’m in a relationship, I’ve been in one for two years. Umm, they’re hard. They’re time-consuming, they’re emotional, kind of weird about feelings a lot. Uhh, they’re there. I mean people want to be happy with a partner, so that’s cool, that’s why we do it. But they’re hard, it’s another job. So there’s that, when you work 90 hours it’s even harder. And when both you and your partner works 90 hours, it gets even harder. So it’s a job, it’s a hard job. But you know, it’s rewarding, in the end. Build a home, have dogs, put up a fence, with your friend who’s helping you for free. But yeah, that’s what I feel about it. Family is the most important thing, as long as you like your family. If you don’t like your family, then your friends become your family and THEY’RE the most important thing. So family is always the most important thing, even if it’s not blood. That’s what I think about it. They complete you when you’re sad, they’re there when you’re happy. They’re there when you just want someone to hang out with you while you’re baking by yourself in a dark sub shop. Umm, they’re there when they’re sweating and they ask you to get face towels so they can stop sweating. But yeah, that’s what friends are. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t see them for 20 years, they’re still friends.

What are you afraid of for yourself?

Uhh… failure. But I don’t know what failure is. I mean, I’ve failed at many things, but then they taught me, or I realized that what I thought that I wanted is not what I wanted. So I don’t know what failure is, but whatever it is is what scares me. Losing all my money, because I’ve lived with and without money, so I… I’m not saying money is the most important things, but… I don’t know, I’m more realistic about it. And that freaks me out, to think about running out of everything, everything I’ve saved up. So that’s my fear I suppose. Is working hard for something and then losing it. Whatever that it, whether it’s money, or ideas, or ::sigh:: I don’t know.

What is something that you feel you’ve accomplished?

Ooh! One of my moments of realizing that I’ve done something good in this community. Unless you think that sugar is bad. Is going to places, and introducing myself as May, and then people immediately saying, “The baker?” Or me being at weddings where I bake, and people are stuffing their faces with sweets and then people telling me, “Oh I usually get these at the sub shop!” That’s always fun. So yeah, I like that. That’s when I feel accomplished. And yelling at students that cut their fingers. I’m the teacher that yells, “Bearclaw!” all the time. I mean it’s their fingers! I’m just helping the next generation to not cut themselves.

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