by The Bathtub Project
Date of Interview: January 5th, 2018
Name: Hope Arthur
Location: Chicago, IL
If you were an underwater creature, real or mythical, what would you be?
I probably would be a real one. But there are two that popped in my head right away. Well, no, three actually. So, the first one would be a sea anemone because I got really obsessed with the way they move for a while and I would only dance like a sea anemone. And then there are sea urchins because I think it’s really cool that they’re really spiny and crazy looking on the outside and they’re really soft on the inside. And then seahorses because I’ve been dreaming about them [laughing]. I don’t know. I just recently was dreaming about seahorses. Really gigantic ones flying outside my window and they’re floral. They were seahorse skeletons, but in my dreams they are not the typical exoskeleton you see on a seahorse. My dream seahorses have ribcages which are hollow. They’re gigantic floral skeletal seahorses. I’ve been thinking about seahorses a lot, so I would want to be one.
How often do you bathe or shower?
Several times a week. Yeah. Several times a week. I shower several times a week and I bathe several times a week because I love baths.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about music and art, I’d say. I started taking piano lessons when I was eight years old. And I fell in love with classical music when I was a child, but my brother would listen to heavy metal and rock and roll. So I was into both [laughter]. And I knew when I was really little that I wanted to be a musician. By the time I got to high school, I had already figured it out and wanted to do that. So I joined every possible music-related thing I could even if I hated it. I was in jazz band. I was in marching band. I was in theatre and choir. I was in– I mean, I didn’t hate any– probably I disliked marching band the most. But I mean, I did all those things because I was like, “Well, if I’m going to be a musician then I need to know everything I can about it.” So, yeah, I guess it was just an intuitive thing I knew when I was a kid. And then I went to really conservative schools. The conservative schools I went to weren’t as liberal in their artistic expression as I personally wanted to be. It wasn’t until I got out of high school that I really got to explore the arts fully, the artistic side. And I started meeting new people in college and going from there.
What type of art do you do now?
Well, so it’s mostly music. I play classical piano, but I also perform in a ragtime band, and I perform in an electronic band, and I have a solo project. And then in terms of art, I’ve been dabbling in visual art because I have strong impulse towards it and it’s a medium I’d like to explore. I do feel intimidated by it though, because I don’t know what I’m doing, so I don’t spend as much time on it. But I have a long-term project where I’m working on a series of large-scale sculptures, which are a physical representation of my own spirit. Initially, I was wanting it to be a general representation of a human spirit, but I think the more I get into the project, I’m realizing it’s my own. But I want it to be a thing where it’s sort of like a playground but it’s an art piece, and you can climb on top of it and through it, and there’s tactile stuff on the inside. I have a prototype of it. It’s made out of styrofoam and wood, so you can’t climb on it. But anyway I sort of do large-scale sculptures, but I need a lot of help when I’m doing them because I don’t know what I’m doing [laughter]. If that answers the question [laughter].
What does the term artist with integrity mean to you?
Artist with integrity. What does that mean to me? I guess I think it means… When I meet people who I believe are artists with integrity, I feel like they ultimately value the purest form of expression. So it’s not like a hierarchical thing or a judgey thing. The people who I respect and the person that I try to be is seeing the first moment of expression. Like when a person wanted to express something or process the world around them, and how they let it travel through their body and then manifest. And allowing space for that, and not judging the manifestation, and just allowing it to be. It’s not to say there aren’t skills or mastery involved. With classical music, for example, there are ways to do it, right? So if you’re a professional at it, there are accepted standards for how to do it because there are established styles within that framework. But at the same time, somebody who felt an impulse to create a really wild classical piece, that’s just coming from the same place as a child who is drawing stick figures in kindergarten. And seeing the oneness of those things, to me, is an artist with integrity.
What are your thoughts on relationships, platonic, sexual, and otherwise?
I’m all messed up about relationships right now [laughter]. I’m really all over the place. I don’t really know. Okay. For my personal choices, I have a lot of trouble because of past baggage. But in terms of other humans and their choices, I just feel like everyone comes with their own life experiences that built them up to why they’re choosing to do things the way they do in the present, so I’m not there to judge. Same with me. I hope no one judges [laughter] why I would have some trouble forming relationships.
What is something you still struggle with?
In general, in life? Probably the relationships thing? [laughter]. Probably that the most. I’ve been really on top of my self-care game. Part of what got me into trouble in the first place, was that I had never really looked at myself and developed enough self-confidence or learned to set boundaries. That created a channel that allowed me to get into some really scary situations, which then created some traumatic experiences for me, which now play into why I’m having trouble forming relationships. So that’s probably, honestly, the biggest thing I struggle with. Otherwise, I feel like I’m pretty good [laughter].
What is something you feel accomplished with?
Something I feel accomplished with? So far, I feel really good about my career. Of course, I can always go further with it. I feel accomplished in my career because I didn’t compromise anything with that, regardless of the bad, unhealthy situations I found myself in. And if I died right now, I would feel pretty successful, even though I know I have a ways to go.
What does self-care mean to you?
Just being really generous with myself when I’m feeling confused about something. Being really generous with myself and allowing myself to feel all—absolutely everything. I used to definitely make myself so busy that I wouldn’t have any time to process my emotions, and I would find myself practicing piano and I would just be bawling my eyes out, because that was the only time I was alone and I could have any moment to process. And so at the bare minimum level, it’s for sure just giving myself time and space to let myself sort it out however I need to, even if people don’t like it or it doesn’t make sense to them. It’s just who I am and what I need to do. And then other things, like nurturing myself. I really like taking baths. That’s a big deal, right? Physical self-care. And then eating healthy. And then, also, if I have a wild idea, just going for it instead of being afraid or letting other people make me feel stupid about it. That kind of stuff.