1. Artist Elana Langer is on a mission. Inspired by her grandmother, she wants to make the tools of living well, like walkers and hearing aids, more glamorous.
2. So she teamed up with NYC-based photographer Hanna Agar to create a photo series called Tools of Life, featuring elegantly bedazzled hearing aids shot in real-world scenarios.
The artist modeled for some of the pictures, in public places around NYC, channelling the elegance of her grandmother.
3. “My grandmother was a real lady,” Langer said on the project’s Tumblr.
“I don’t remember a time when her hair and nails weren’t done and she wasn’t dressed impeccably. In the last year of her life she, like many others in her condition, lost the ability to walk without support. And although she had a strong will to live, the idea of using a walker in public seemed unbearable to her. The force of her vanity had come up against the limit of the body.”
4. Langer suggested to her grandmother that they bedazzle her walker but her grandmother didn’t like the idea.
Though she never got the chance to convince her, Langer kept thinking about the idea for a long time.
5. “We need to have fun within these places that cause social discomfort,” Langer said.
“To be able to embrace and play with our desire to adorn and enhance ourselves in both actual necessity (like a walker) and chosen necessity (like make-up, nails, hair, clothing…).”
6. “One tool of enhancement, like clothing or jewelry, doesn’t have to compromise another tool of enhancement like the ability to hear or walk with greater ease.”
7. Both kinds of devices, Langar says, are “enriching our experiences in the world.
“And both are admitting that we need and want help with the conditions that exist within us at any given moment.”
9. Langer, along with Agar—who has done other conceptual and portraiture work—are planning more shoots in this series including a model with a punk walker.
10. “The moment Elana mentioned it to me, I could just imagine this world,” Agar told BuzzFeed, “where all these people were walking around with blinged out walkers, just rocking it down the street. And having hearing aids be just as beautiful as earrings.”
“It felt like a celebration of life instead of a reminder of what we lack. I love creating photographs that have a deeper message than just being a pretty picture, which was why this project really spoke to me.”
11. The allure of a fancy walker was clear when they were shooting part of the series at a unisex salon in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
12. “When we walked in with the walker, the women went crazy,” said Agar. “ One of them exclaimed, “I want one of these when I am old. I would take it to the club!”
13. Check out more photos from the project here.
See more about Elana Langar’s projects here, and click here to see more of Hanna Agar’s photography. And if you or someone you love are interested in a special order walker or hearing aid, contact Elana at email@example.com.
A previous version of this article said the decorated devices were not for sale, but has been corrected.