Multimedia artist Claire Bangser created NOLAbeings as a portrait-based story project that marries image and text. Inspired by the Humans of NY project, it stems from the belief that we can all learn from one anothers' stories. Primarily featured on Instagram (and tumblr), Claire meets people in coffee shops, grocery stores, living rooms, sidewalks, and learns something about each individual through a snapshot conversation and image. After discovering and falling in love with the project, editors at NolaVie asked to post a weekly roundup of her most visually and narratively stimulating photos.
“I’m fascinated by the fact that you could actually sail into town. All the cargo that built the city mainly came through Bayou St. John – they actually moved all this stuff with the wind! To me, when they filled that in, they kinda took out the heart of the city. And to me (history) is all still really happening. I’ve tried to paint it … to be a one-man propaganda machine to force people to realize. I read a great quote by thie Italian philosopher: ‘Art makes near that which is far away and breathes life into the dead.’”
“I’m happy that I came from riding trains and not having anything to finally having my own home and my own dogs. It’s nice to have somewhere warm to sleep. It’s nice to sit inside and listen to the rain outside. There was one time when it was pouring rain – I was up in Maine – and we had to sleep underneath a semi truck to stay dry.”
“In the year 2000 I lost three children in six months’ time. My son had just made 25. Me and him had a disagreement, so he went across the river. He was killed June 11th. I buried him June the 17th on my birthday. Four and a half months later the house caught on fire and I lost two more kids. Katrina wasn’t nothing but a slap on the wrist for me. But you know, the God I serve is an awesome god. If it wouldn’t have been me, it could have been somebody else.”
“I’m trying to find my niche right now. I am the quintessential New York Orleanian in that I’m looking for what’s next, as many of my New York counterparts, while enjoying what’s happening in my everyday as the spirit of New Orleans encourages. I’m a teacher by day, musician by night, chasing the American dream. I would love to pursue both full time, but unfortunately that doesn’t feel realistic, so I’m trying to marry those two things and hopefully that will happen.”
Claire Bangser is a New Orleans-based photographer and filmmaker with a passion for storytelling. She is the creator of NOLAbeings and has produced work for local, national, an international organizations and media since 2009. Highlights include a three-month bike tour storytelling project on the west coast, documentation for a four-month National Geographic Young Explorer’s grant in Turkey, and New Orleans-based digital storytelling projects like Cry You One and BOUDIN: The New Orleans Music Project. Find more of her work at www.clairebangser.com.