The Nola Thread Project: Born of Resistance explores bonds of community in my hometown of New Orleans. I started with a portrait and conversation with Edwina Waterhouse Gibson, my friend, resident of the Lower Ninth Ward, and member of the Original Big Nine Social Aid and Pleasure Club. I asked her to choose the next subject, who in turn selected the next person, etc., weaving a unique social 'thread.' Geographically, the project encompasses the metro area, but this thread runs through the cultural heart of black communities in New Orleans, such as the Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs and the Mardi Gras Indians. These organizations originated in the 19th Century as sources of support and resistance in the face of adversity and discrimination. The post-Katrina resilience celebrated during the ten-year anniversary of the storm is not a new impulse sprung from disaster, but rather a manifestation of the emotional connections and traditions nurtured over a long history of societal trauma.
I use a “stitch” technique to make the portraits; shooting multiple photographs to make each one. The process is a metaphor for the ties that bind cultures and communities, and the perseverance needed for people to “stitch” their lives back together since Hurricane Katrina.