Photography and Text by Rebecca Norris Webb
Studying at the International Center of Photography in New York, Rebecca Norris Webb first came across W. Eugene Smith’s “Country Doctor,” his famous Life Magazine photo essay. Webb was immediately drawn to the subject of Smith’s essay, Dr. Ernest Ceriani, a Colorado country doctor who was just a few years older than her father. She wondered: How would a woman tell this story, especially if she happened to be the doctor’s daughter? In light of this, for the past six years Norris Webb has retraced the route of her 99-year-old father’s house calls through Rush County, Indiana, the rural county where they both were born. Following his work rhythms, she photographed often at night and in the early morning, when many people arrive into the world—her father delivered some one thousand babies—and when many people leave it. Accompanying the photographs, lyrical text pieces addressed to her father create a series of handwritten letters told at a slant. Ultimately, Night Calls is a meditation on fathers and daughters, on memory and one’s first landscape, on caretaking of the land and its inhabitants, and on history that divides us as much as heals us.