AROUND THE BLOK. VOL. 6 - HILARY KATHLEEN
Hilary Kathleen is a freelance analog 35mm film photographer currently based in the southwest where she resides with her six year old son. Themes found in her work includes connection with mother, feminine empowerment, youth empowerment, anthropogenic impact on the environment and exploration of emotion through variance in light and process of creative self-expression. Today, we are extremely excited to sit down with Hilary for Around The Blok!
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF?
I consider myself to be more of an artist as my main objective is to create and express but my primary form of expression is through 35mm film photos, mostly of my son, my friends and inspiring people and places I am lucky enough to have a loving moment with. I am profoundly a now person, nature is my sanctuary, I value relationships and genuine connection, I feel weighed down by material things, I dance/sing/write/soak on the daily, I am highly sensitive and emotional, I wake and meditate, tacos are my favorite food, pink and blue are my favorite color, I love my mama, I am social yet deeply introverted, I am excited to try new things and ok with being not so great at them, I am happiest road tripping without expectations or a set plan, my favorite thing in the world is cuddling with my son and watching him sleep, I get my jollies discussing topics of existential nature and I have a tattoo of a french bulldog on a surfboard riding a wave.
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
I take photos because I absolutely love it with my whole heart beyond what words can accurately describe and because it helps me feel a sense of purpose. Photo has helped me through the darkest of times as a healthy creative outlet and as a channel to process my emotions. It has given me a level of meaning and connection in life that goes beyond what I am capable of on my own. I started to really get into photo at a time in my life when I had slowly been depreciating in self-worth after years and years of trying to be something I wasn’t. I had been married for a while and was trying to be what my husband thought I should be and was severely depressed, completely numb, lifeless and a bit hopeless. I had had an interest in taking photos since high school and took a few classes in college but what I learned only frustrated me and didn’t seem useful for where I was at. Around that same time, a very critical and angry person in my life told me I would never be a photographer because I wasn’t brave enough, which crushed me and completely demolished any sense of confidence I had as a mere nineteen year old. It wasn’t until I was twenty-seven and my son was almost a year old that I mustered up the courage to give photography another shot. I realized I was losing out on an opportunity to document his childhood and to preserve memories if I didn’t get over my fears and insecurities, buck up and try again. Since the moment he was born I have looked at my son in awe of how incredibly beautiful and special he is above and beyond my capacity to imagine what he would be so taking photos of him is an experience of comfort and pure euphoric delight. Because we share a love that is so pure, the love of a child and for a child, It brings out the best in both of us and is a standard that I have learned so much about cultivating for myself and in my close relationships. Over the years I’ve used this standard as a goal with everything I photograph, and a direction for what I chose to photograph, and although it is infinite work it still feels better to get closer to that goal bit by bit. As a result of this work I have been lifted out of the fog of depression and now live with a more pure, euphoric delight for life and have done what I love most with who I love most to thank for it.
WHAT BENEFIT DOES ART PROVIDE TO SOCIETY?
I believe art to be the healthiest form of release and emotional processing as I have experienced it as such and have benefited greatly from art that has been shared by others as a source of encouragement, connection and inspiration. If I have personally experienced these positive aspects of art than I’m sure society is benefiting in this way as a whole as well. Before I practiced art as much as I do now I also experienced and can attest to the negative effects of pent up emotion that after long periods of suppressing would erupt in violent and chaotic frustration and anger after being triggered by the smallest thing. These eruptions would scare me as I felt I had no control at once I got into a tantrum and I didn’t know what I was capable of. I once smashed a swiffer to pieces yelling and screaming out of rage, pieces of plastic flying through the air like shrapnel, my then husband and son watched in disbelief and fear from the other room. I knew was out of hand at that point and that I needed to do something about this problem that was so obviously unhealthy and affecting those around me. When we practice art we provide a channel for these emotions to flow so they aren’t pent up. What we create with the flow of these emotions can guide our decisions and help us work on ourselves if we so choose. When art is shared I think it helps others relate to these emotions and process visually as well so even if you’re not an artist you can benefit. Obviously stated I think society functions better if it’s contributors aren’t throwing unpredictable fits of violent rage and feel connected to each other through compassion of understanding what it is to feel human.
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS CHASING THEIR DREAMS?
My advice to others chasing their dreams would be to listen to yourself. I have a hard time with the concept of advice because I truly believe that inspiration and guidance are meant to be found in whatever form is perfect for the person seeking, and that is for them to determine for themselves. There are infinite ways to get to where you want to go and based off of our genetic makeup, out history, our skills, our weaknesses, components that no one else will truly understand ever, it seems insane to expect everyone to get there the same way. Only you can know which way you need to go for yourself and only you will be held accountable for your choices at the end of the day. No one else cares about you getting there the way that you do, which gives you the freedom to do what you need to do. What I learned from the experience of being depressed for so long was that my depression was a direct result of my resistance to being who I really am, my resistance to make choices for myself and to grow from those experiences.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION AND WHY?
My biggest inspiration I’m stuck on, ack, there are so many things that inspire me and are ever changing but I suppose I could pinpoint healing is the total summation. I am inspired by what interests me and fascinates me, gets me out of my comfort zone, and the process of healing from trauma and unhealthy habits really gets me excited. Connection with nature, connection with each other, unconditional love, empowerment and creativity are contributing components to my work right now that flow positively.
WHEN YOU THINK OF HOME, WHAT COMES TO MIND?
When I think of home I think of the freedom to be myself exactly as I am. Comfort in a feeling of unconditional love and acceptance.
You can follow Hilary Kathleen on INSTAGRAM.