THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

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Hope Arthur

 

Date of Interview: January 5th, 2018

Name: Hope Arthur

Age: 30

Pronouns: She/Her

 

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.

Jam

 

Date: December 17th, 2017

Name: Jam

Pronouns: They/Them

Age: 25

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

Mostly once a day, but it’s because my acne gets so bad if I don’t. But I tend more towards two days [laughter]. I mostly shower, but I don’t know. When my body feels weird, I take a bath if I feel like I need it. If I feel like I need to chill out. Just to make my brain calm down.

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

A manta ray. They’re beautiful. They look like– I used to dream about them a lot. And I just like how they move. And not very many things are shaped like that. It’s a very unique body design. And I think it’s really funny when they jump out of the ocean and belly flop [laughter] to make those giant booms under the water to attract mates. I think that’s great.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about bugs [laughter]. I’m a teacher and I am passionate about– I was talking to my partner about this yesterday, about how there are two things that I want to get across. If I could narrow it down to two things that I want to get across when I’m teaching kids, it’s that you shouldn’t be afraid of dead things and bugs are amazing. Yeah, that’s what I’m passionate about. I’ve always been fascinated with biodiversity, different kinds of creatures. And I found that the most insane variation in what creatures look like and how they function is in the insect world. And we know so little about it and there’s so much of it. And I don’t know when I realized that.

I mean, I hadn’t always loved bugs. I was diagnosed with OCD in fourth grade. And for a while, it manifested as really intense germophobia for a year. My hands were scaly because I washed them so much. It was really bad. I just had panic attacks if I thought that something I was going to eat was in any way tarnished or something. And that definitely did not help the bug situation. But I don’t know. I think looking at a lot of really close up images of bugs, being able use– there’s a lot of really good bug Flickrs [laughter]. I spend a lot of time on the internet looking at pictures of bugs, really close up pictures of bugs. And I think that a lot more people would like bugs if they were larger because you can’t really see all of what’s going in there because they’re so small and when you look at macro photography you’re like “Wow. That mouth has so many individual moving parts. That bug that looks like it’s all smooth and shiny is actually like a big hairy creature when you look at it up close”. I think that helped me figure out how awesome they were. And I also am passionate about drawing and bugs are my favorite thing to illustrate.

What is something you feel accomplished with?

I feel really accomplished because I moved here. I lived in Washington my entire life until a little over six months ago. A year ago I came to visit my friend in Chicago who lived in this apartment. And I knew I wanted to move away from where I was because I did not want to do Washington anymore [laughter]. A lot of it is that it’s just really homogenous. It’s ecologically beautiful but in terms of belief systems and culture and ethnicity even, it’s just so homogenous. And everyone is scared of that but they’re also scared of anything else. So there’s a lot of tension because people don’t talk about things. And I didn’t think I could move. I didn’t think I could do it because I’d never done it before. I’d never moved across the country. And I wanted to live in the city and I wanted to live in an environment that was more challenging. I guess I had done it before. I lived in the Andes for four months in Peru for a class and I noticed that that really– it was a catalyst in my brain. It evolved me. I felt I was so out of my comfort zone and so in such a completely different situation because I’d never spent very much time outside the country before that it just triggered all these changes in me and most of them were very positive. Or they weren’t even positive or negative. I just became a different person. And I felt like that person was more operable in the world and so I wanted to do that again. And that’s part of why I wanted to move. And I feel really accomplished in moving here because it was really hard. But I feel like I’m making it work.

What is something you still struggle with?

I have a lot of problems around just the way that I think about time. I constantly worry that I’m wasting time or that I am misusing time or that I am stuck. I’ll find myself spending time with someone I love and I’ll just be like, “We’re not doing anything. We’re doing nothing. We’re being unproductive”. And then I’ll go, “Wow. That’s a horrible thing to think about spending time with a loved one. No.” But there are some– I notice that ebbs and flows in different periods of my life and I’m definitely in one of those periods right now where I feel I have to be working on things all the time in order to feel good about myself and in order to feel like I’m not wasting or just eating up time. So that’s the thing that I struggle with is berating myself about that and comparing myself to like, “These people have accomplished this thing. I have accomplished this thing. They are incomparable. I am not doing the things that I should be doing at this point in my life”.  My anxiety has gotten significantly better since I moved here. But yeah, I struggle with not necessarily time management but time over-management [laughter].

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, sexual, familial, and otherwise?

What kind of thoughts? I think they should be constructive. What is that sound [laughter]? Oh well. I think that they should be constructive and positive and build something because I feel like a lot of relationships do not do that. And I see a lot of people in relationships that are not– I don’t want to judge what people’s lives are like because I’m only seeing a little bit of it. But I feel like most people who I interact with who are in relationships that they feel really committed in in terms of you’re my partner relationships. They seem like they feel trapped but they don’t want to acknowledge it. And I feel like any relationship at some point you’re going to feel trapped. But responding to that and talking about it with the other person is really important.

Erin Bliss

 

Date of Interview: November 6th, 2017

Name: Erin Bliss

Age: 28

Pronouns: She/Her and They/Them

Location: Chicago, IL

 

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

I think I would definitely be an octopus. Because octopus are extremely intelligent animals, and they’re able to deduce color and form just by seeing exactly what is there without having to touch or feel anything. It’s really an interesting sense, and they must have such rich lives. It must be very scary too [laughter] because they’re just always hiding. They’ve gotten so good at it. It’s their life. Their main way that they survive and not get eaten by predators is if they can mimic and hid in any sort of seaweed or kelp or coral that they want. It’s crazy.

Does the extra sense appeal to you?

Yeah. Definitely. Being able to adapt that quickly and easily, effortlessly, to whatever comes your way as you’re going along would be– I feel like I work towards that anyway kind of in my life, but just to have it as an inherent skill would be why I would choose to be an octopus. Also, they have big brains, and it’s awesome [laughter]. They must be so smart. We’re trying to talk to aliens, but we don’t try to talk to octopus, which I think we should try harder to do. Dolphins too. Whales. All of them. Yeah. Anyway [laughter].

What are you passionate about?

A lot of things. It’s hard for me to narrow things down sometimes. Like, choosing my favorite things is kind of hard to do because I’m– I really love learning about the universe and absolutely everything, but also just absorbing knowledge generally. Becoming aware of yourself as a person in context of everything else is really important in my life. But then as far as my practice, like what I do in the world, that doesn’t really impact many other people. But I think it’s really– I’m really passionate about making things. Making tangible things in the world is kind of what I really love to do.

How does that manifest itself?

My passion for learning and my passion for making things kind of come together and me getting interested in certain materials and then working with them. Right now wood being the one I’m most interested in. Making things that nobody else has made before that are these beautiful art objects but also functional in a certain way. Making things that are functional or that have some sort of purpose besides just being cute is something that I enjoy. And also not being wasteful, making things that will last for a lifetime instead of a season so that it doesn’t just go in the trash, and your effort’s not wasted.

Does functionality play a role in your life outside of creating things?

Yeah. It kind of plays into my relationships and how I live. Like how I acquire things and what I have in my home. I’m not a really big shopper. I kind of have what I need, and that’s it. And with relationships, I give what I can. I take out of them what I can. But there’s not that much frivolous– well, I try [laughter] to not have that much frivolous stuff. There’s always intentions. There’s always a function to an action or an object.

What are your thoughts on relationships, platonic, sexual, and otherwise?

They’re great. I love people. I think that they’re really important. I don’t think I would be as motivated a person if I didn’t have people in my life that cared about me and believed in me. And those people are also reasons to keep doing what I’m doing and to keep wanting to be better and trying to function in society. I think relationships are important for my mental and physical health, and my motivation to live [laughter]. I might have that outside of relationships, but I don’t know. I’d have to see. It’d be an interesting experiment [laughter].

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

Well, nothing immediately comes to mind. I think just working on bettering myself. It’s like a big long-form goal/life practice. I think that’s generally what my answer would be. I don’t have one big thing. It’s like a large conglomeration of small things adding up to something.

What is something you still struggle with?

I’m really hard on myself, so I still struggle with recognizing when I should just accept something and move on instead of dwelling on it and saying, “I should’ve done it better,” or, “I wasted time,” or, “I said the wrong thing.” I can get stuck in dwelling in the past.

Are there ways that you fight against it?

Yeah. I think about the universe [laughter]. I think about everything else outside of me, and then I remember that I’m being silly and that I can just go out and live my best life and leave that stuff behind.

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