Having access to the city so soon after the devastation caused a sense of panic in Dingler’s mind. A simple phone call from a friend became the starting point for what would result in a post-Katrina street art movement—a movement that would later be named NoLa Rising.
I have my own NOLA Rising art story. I lost my job after the storm when Tenet Health Systems didn’t come back and participate in the rebuilding of our city. In early 2006 I was hired by a local hospital uptown and drove to work everyday down the length of Tchoupitoulas St. On the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Napoleon Ave was a boarded up (as were most) building with a NOLA Rising sign on the door. It was a beautifully multi-colored sign that gave me hope each day as I passed through the streets of a still broken city lined with flooded-out cars and garbage. The day the sign was gone was a sad one for me – it had given me hope each day that one day our city would be back.
Dingler painted on any bit of scrap wood he could find. Thousands of signs were popping up all over the city. Most were simple road markers, but others were messages of hope.
I said it before and I’ll say it again. Thanks, Rex, for all you’ve done and continue to do for the people of New Orleans. You’re a pretty cool guy.
“To me, the most valuable thing in becoming socially visible through the artwork I put up is standing up as a voice of expression in our city when people are trying to take the artist voice away,” he later noted. “That’s when I learned that not only my voice is important, but everyone’s voice is important, no matter what the persecution is going to be.” ~~Rex Dingler