There will be a day when folks in the future look back at the work of Chelsea photographer Darlene DeVita and her ‘People of Chelsea’ project – particularly during the last year of the pandemic – and marvel at it.
But why wait for the future when her work is ready and available now?
DeVita has had banners on the fence of the Chelsea Public Library for many months, but now she has created new banners and expanded the project to Chelsea High School on Everett Avenue.
“The banners are there and they are to celebrate,” she said. “I just finished putting up new and larger banners at Chelsea High School along Everett Avenue. It’s still pandemic work, but these are new portraits. There are quite a few new ones and some old ones too. There’s new Black Lives Matter images from last summer and the holidays at La Colaborativa and giving out food. There’s joyful ones and people dancing. Who knew it would turn into this? Even without the pandemic, I’ve always been amazed by this community.”
DeVita said it was one year ago this week after the pandemic set in that she ventured out with her camera to see what she could find. She had already been doing her ‘People of Chelsea’ project for some time, and wasn’t sure what to do when COVID hit. The answer came quickly when she found people and organizations, families and neighbors, coping with the tragedy as – well – People of Chelsea.
That early work turned into a series of banners that were put up on the fence of the Chelsea Public Library. Those are still up for viewing, and now the ones at Chelsea High School are available too.
In addition, DeVita reported she has recently gotten a Heritage Grant from the Cultural Council to archive her work with the Friends of the Chelsea Library.
The portraits and text she has created will be preserved as part of that grant, and they will also go up on the Library fence for all to see sometime this fall. That work is a little different from the banners and features portraits of Chelsea residents and vignettes of their life’s story. “People seem to enjoy the work and want to see it and I feel like I’m doing so much,” she said. “I meet people now and they have stories to tell and they want to tell their story to me…I still have a lot of Chelsea people to photograph.”