Happy Birthday, dear Bayard

 

As captioned in Light and Air: The Photography of Bayard Wootten, "The staff of the Wootten-Moulton Chapel Hill studio joined Wootten in a birthday celebration about 1940. George C. Moulton, her half brother, stands on the far left. In front of him and leaning over the table is T. C. Moore, Wootten's successor in the business. Margaret Howland Fowler, a secretary in the studio for two decades, is to Wootten's right. (Mary Moulton Barden Collection)"
As captioned in Light and Air: The Photography of Bayard Wootten, “The staff of the Wootten-Moulton Chapel Hill studio joined Wootten in a birthday celebration about 1940. George C. Moulton, her half brother, stands on the far left. In front of him and leaning over the table is T. C. Moore, Wootten’s successor in the business. Margaret Howland Fowler, a secretary in the studio for two decades, is to Wootten’s right. (Mary Moulton Barden Collection)”

Today marks the 142nd birthday of photographer Bayard Wootten.  Born 17 December 1875, Wootten began her photographic career in 1905 in New Bern.  The photograph above depicts Wooting blowing out candles on one of her many birthday cakes, probably around 1940.  She died on 6 April 1959 in her 83rd year.

In 1998 the University of North Carolina Press published Jerry Cotten’s biography of Wootten, which received the Mary Ellen LoPresti Award from the southeast chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America.  In October of this year on the eve of the books twentieth anniversary, UNC Press reissued the biography as a paperback edition featuring photographs reproduced from Wootten’s original negatives using twenty-first digital imaging technology.  The results are photographs reproduced with even more richness, both subtle and dramatic, than the first printing.

When you get your new 2018 calendar, circle March 27th.  On that evening, Jerry Cotten and I will each give a presentation during a program titled, “Bayard Wootten: Then and Now.”  Jerry will talk about Wootten and her accomplishments as featured in the biography, and I will discuss what we have learned about Wootten during the twenty years since the book’s initial publication.  The presentations will follow a brief opening reception for a new exhibition in The Pleasants Family Assembly Room in Wilson Library, and a book signing will follow the presentations.

One thought on “Happy Birthday, dear Bayard”

  1. So very sorry I missed your joint presentation earlier this year. I believe my mother,Francis Joyce Kimbel,worked at the Bayard-Moulton Studio/Chapel Hill in the mid 1940’s as a retoucher. Piecing together events and actions in retrospect is difficult but I believe my mother met Miss Wootten years earlier while visiting and working around Brookgreen Plantation/Gardens in South Carolina. The link between neighboring Wachesaw Plantation,where my mother lived,Sandy Island,and the Huntingtons,seems more than just coincidental, considering how I never understood how and why my mother transitioned from Wachesaw to Bayard Wootten’s Studio in Chapel Hill. These are just the musing of a son trying to retrace the life of a mother who died nearly 50 years ago and,I must say,Miss Wootten”s photographs of the people and places of this area resonate with me on a level that is reminiscent of when I was a child living, breathing,and interacting with the people and land, there. I want to believe my mother felt the same about Miss Wootten’s sight and insight.

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