By Bethany Mahan
WRECKED: Where did these photos come from, and what motivated you to take them?
Bethany Mahan: I started taking pictures about about six months ago. Ive been working at a ministry for homeless teens and through working with the clients and other team members, the idea of a book was born. I picked up a camera for the first time, and as I started taking pictures, God had dropped a gift in my lap. I noticed I was attracted to a lot of texture, and I see a beauty in things such as hands, feet and faces. From there, I branched out to the rest of the street community, and out of the hundreds of pictures shot, all but about five people were glad to have their picture taken. I guess we all want to be seen and truly heard.
WRECKED: What is your fascination with hands?
BM: You see, there is a universal theme in hands, feet and faces we all have them! Regardless of social class, religious upbringing or cultural background, most hands have at least one scar. Every pair of feet tells stories without even whispering one word. With faces and eyes, we have a window into souls. All stories need to be heard and, if all of us carry the image of God, have the need to be interacted with in dignity and respect. The image of God has the need for deeper connection to something and something other than ourselves and our own desires.
WRECKED: Do you believe art has something to say, or can it be appreciated it in and of itself?
BM: I dont think art has to make a spiritual statement to be appreciated. Anything coming from a man or womans soul speaks volumes. There doesnt have to be a political, religious, or moral message for it to be worthy of enjoyment. Ones creativity connects them with others through evoking emotions and thoughts. Whether these thoughts or feelings are happy, thankful, peaceful, chaotic, angry or ambivalent, it still is a way to understand anothers point of view, and how God might be speaking through them.
WRECKED: What do you try to do with your art?
BM: With this said, I have no idea what Im supposed to do with my art! I know God has given it to me, and I want to give it back to Gods glory. Its imperative for me to see my brothers and sisters the way God would have me see them. God knows this community, just as any other, as having souls containing beauty, sadness, confusion, amazement, pain, awe and most importantly, the need for Jesus Christ.
WRECKED: What does it mean for you to re-imagine culture?
BM: The Bible talks about how as Gods sons and daughters, we are all priests and prophets. My hope is to challenge a few of the general public in considering the state of their own inner-man. It would be really great if a person or so walked away asking them selves a question that Christ asked many, What is it that I want? The status quo existence lived by many (myself included), is not for a child of the Father. A numbingly slow suffocation of the soul is not the life dreamt by God for us.
When I think about a counter culture, or about re-imagining my community, I consider a quote by Gandhi, which states, Be the change you want to see in the world. As Mother Theresa had so eloquently put it, Jesus didnt tell us to love the whole world, he just told us to love our neighbor. Any change in ones inner man cannot be contained for long, and will just absolutely have to leak out What ever you desire for the world you live in must happen within yourself first. This is not an easy way, but it is the most transparent and amazing way.
WRECKED: Can you tell us about some of these photos?
BM: The woman with a hoodie on, making the okay sign with both hands – this is Debbie. She turned to the streets three years ago, after the death of her daughter. Debbie told me how she couldn’t function in the general public,and has been living on the streets since then. She said she is doing better and is hoping to move into her own apartment soon. I refer to her as: “My sweetest soul sister”
The one of just the hands [not with the money] is of a client at Cup of Cool Water, the street ministry I’m currently involved with. I took pics of their hands to keep their identity safe. One of the arms had a scar on it. This particular client’s father has burned him with cigarettes and has many other scars from his biological family. He told me his greatest fear was his dad. I’ve called it: “And who do you say that I am?”
The pic of the old man sleeping with his head down was taken against a really nice bank in the downtown area of my city. He was sleeping right next to the drive up ATM, and no one seemed to even notice. Here, people were taking out money, and this guy was sleeping against a building made to hold money. Ironic, isn’t it? I call it: “The loudest silence of them all.”
Bethany is from Spokane, Washington and the pictures were taken in and around the greater downtown area of the city. She works at Cup of Cool Water , a homeless youth ministry in the hub of downtown Spokane. “Cup”, as it’s lovingly referred to, is funded solely on faith.