Bob and Sharon Caldwell know there is plenty by which to
remember Debbie DeVita.
They just don’t know where.
Their good friend and colleague, Boone photographer DeVita, died too suddenly three years ago at age 50. And many of DeVita’s memory-making photos are scattered about the High Country, many without attribution or identification. Some are in storage boxes.
The most prominent example: the works of DeVita that gave anchor to an exhibition at the birthing center of the Watauga Medical Center in Boone. When the exhibition recently was taken down, it touched a sad chord in the Caldwells.
“When we went over the hospital to pick up our photos from the exhibition,” Sharon Caldwell said, “we thought, ‘What should be do about Debbie’s?’ There are about 10 of 12 of her beautiful photos, but the people in them aren’t identified. They are mothers and newborns. Some are so personal and warm, mothers nursing, for instance.
“She really enjoyed interacting with people, especially children. She believed in photography as art. She had a passion for the art and turned it into a business. It was such a part of her life.”
DeVita grew up in North Carolina and graduated from Appalachian State University in 1981. She then spent the next three decades photographing folks across the High Country, brides and grooms, new babies and old celebrants of all stripes. She worked out of her home office in Deep Gap.
And beyond the birthing center display, Bob Caldwell said, “If any other business or location has display portraits of Debbie’s and does not know who the subjects are, they can contact us, and we will add the portraits to the group that we have and will hold on to them and try to locate the people involved to give these images back to the families photographed.
“The main point is that we have a number of images here at our studio (and) home and some more images are to come to us, and we want anyone who feels they might be subjects of these display images to call or email and then pick them up and take them home with them.”
In the meantime, Bob Caldwell’s and DeVita’s portraits will be on display in Boone Mall’s center court throughout June.
“Again, we hope to find homes for these DeVita portraits,” Bob Caldwell said. “With her passing, we know some people are still asking about her work.”
If you know of a DeVita photo you want to share, or think you know of someone who was the subject of the birthing center exhibition, contact the Caldwells at (firstname.lastname@example.org)