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About the Photographer
American, b. 1943
For the Changing Chicago documentary project in the late 1980s, Tom Hocker photographed the primarily Hispanic neighborhoods of East Chicago, an area on the outskirts of the city that is actually in Indiana. Focusing mostly on social events and entertainment activities, Hocker expresses an interest in using "the camera as a ‘passport’" to enable him to participate vicariously in this world while also addressing the larger "human comedy" of life.
One of the largest documentary photography projects ever organized in an American city, Changing Chicago commissioned thirty-three photographers to document life throughout Chicago's diverse urban and suburban neighborhoods. The project was launched in 1987 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the invention of photography and the 50th anniversary of the Farm Security Administration documentary project, which provides its inspirational model. Changing Chicago honors the tradition of the FSA project, but it moved away from its predecessor's ambition of inspiring social change towards the more general goal of providing a nuanced description of the human experience in a particular geographic area. Sponsored by the Focus/Infinity Fund of Chicago, the project was organized with the support of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Chicago Historical Society, and the Chicago Office of Fine Arts, Chicago Public Library Cultural Center. In the spring of 1989 the five institutions mounted concurrent exhibitions devoted to the project.
Born in Sherman, Texas, Hocker completed a BA in history at Rice University (1966) and a MS in photography from the Institute of Design at the Illinois Insititute of Technology, Chicago (1969). He has worked as a photographer for the United States Army and Inland Steel Corporation, and has taught photography at Purdue University, in Calumet, Indiana.