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.
"She teaches me how to read and how to say words correctly."
“We spend every Mardi Gras together accidentally - we never plan it. And I showed up at Eris, I went to the end of the world like ‘who am I going to spend the parade with?’ and I turned around and there he was. Our sub-krewe is Glitter in the Cracks. Because glitter is in everything.”
“What’s nice about Eris is that all the freaks come out - all the odd people and weirdos - which is generally true about Mardi Gras but you don’t necessarily feel it in every space. Any one of us - if you put us in another circumstance like Endymion yesterday, it would be like ‘what are you doing here?’”
“My dad’s 81 and is an awesome guy and my mom is 21 years younger and also an awesome lady. She came out 25 years after they got married and is now with a wonderful woman. A couple years ago my mom had to get her colon out and she’s just been going through all these surgeries. And she was working on a kids book and her illustrator dropped out of doing the project, so I went back home to help and illustrate it for her after she had written it. It’s called 'A Hullabaloo of Hippos.' And it’s so so cool. And by doing the kids book, my mom and I really worked through all of our stuff. We just became better at communicating about everything."
"I only remember the stuff that’s in my own motherland and not really from here. More important is there. It was scary because we didn’t know what our future was like or where we were going, but everyone wanted to leave. We left in a small boat. Then a big commercial size ship took us here. I’ve been back to Vietnam just one time in the last 40 years." (translated)
“You caught me in like a really big change. I’m thirty and up until now I’ve known exactly what I wanted out of life, and now I kind of don’t.”
“Everything. I’m in the process of changing genders, so that’s a big change. I’m also trying to figure out whether or not to dedicate my life to a radical faerie sanctuary. There’s so many good things about it and bad things about it. The radical faerie community - they’re my only family. My real family gave me up when I was thirteen and I’ve been trying to find a family ever since. I found the radical faeries and that’s all I need.”
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.