exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Struggles




Date of Interview: April 5, 2017

Name: Kate

Age: 27

Pronouns: She/Hers

Location: Washington, DC


How often do you bathe or shower?

I bathe or shower randomly. Sometimes I shower twice a day, sometimes I go a couple days without. But with baths, I never feel clean so I usually shower afterwards ::laughs::.

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

Hmmm. I like starfish, although I find it kind of disturbing with sand dollars and stuff, when they don’t get thrown back in. Or… I like jellyfish, but I wouldn’t want to sting things. Once I had a dream that I was a fish, a regular one that was yellow and blue and I could breathe through my gills. Since then I’ve been really into the idea of breathing through gills. I don’t really know the process of breathing underwater, but in my dream if felt wonderful to breathe that way.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about a lot of things. Kind of too many things, I have trouble focusing. Lately it’s kind of cheesy, but I’ve been trying to focus everything that I do on two things. Making a difference in some way, even though that sounds really cheesy, or making something beautiful. I like sharing or experiencing beautiful things. I try to focus more on creating than consuming. So that’s a roundabout way of saying that I have so many things that I focus on passionately, that I want to go with those feelings and they are guided by those two focuses and principles. I am passionate about art, which goes into beautiful things, also nature. I’m passionate about mental health. I’m into mental health reform. I’m passionate about sex and gender based violence, I’m passionate about the rights of women. I feel like I’m passionate about a lot of things, and I try to do small things to make people happier. Equality is such a vague thing, but I am passionate about it. Like, with mental health reform, people deserve a chance, you know? It’s messed up how people are abandoned. Same with sex and gendered violence advocacy stuff, I think that’s so important and it really upsets me how unequal that is. Sexual violence it makes us so unequal because of living in fear. It mostly affects women, so it becomes a gender equality issues because of living in fear and living life differently because of it which can affect so many things. Losing income or having to pay so much money in therapy or medical bills because of it. Or not graduating college, that stuff really upsets me when it comes to equality. This connects to mental health reform ’cause so much of this becomes a mental health issue for survivors, it tends to hold people back a lot. I’m passionate about those things, and that people have equal access to beauty. People having equal access to art and nature… those are human rights issues. People think that it’s frivolous, people think that art is a luxury and I don’t think that art should be a luxury. Of course safety and putting food on the table should be a priority, and those are huge things but what I mean to say is that we need to make sure everyone has those things and more. Like, making sure that people can do more than survive and have access to beautiful things and things that make life good.

What is something you still struggle with?

Right now I’m struggling most with direction. The idea that you have to choose A path, you have to make choices if you’re going to move anywhere. Like, anytime you make one choice, you’re sacrificing all the other choices… so it’s basically FOMO ::laughs::. But in the larger sense, not just going to parties, but if I become a physiatrist, will I have time for writing anymore. If I focus on a writing or publishing career, will I even have enough time or money to feel stable. So balancing different desires of life.

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

I think, of course, they are very important. I think that we don’t spend enough time thinking about them or how to make them good. I think most of us are often lazy about them and go through the phases without questioning things… I think to have good relationships, it takes a lot of work and effort. Most of the work can be fun, much of time. I think a lot of people prioritize romantic relationships to be the number one. It can be, but often it’s up to the other relationships in your life and we put too much pressure on that one person. It can be healthier to get from more than one place. I struggle with maintaining my own identity and not merging with other people’s identities or people pleasing in my relationships. That’s something that I work on. I think they’re all important and it can be healthy to view in different ways. It’s also really important for me to think of myself with a relationship with myself. It’s good to remember that I’m a person too, I should treat myself kindly as well.

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.

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