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About the Photographer
American, b. 1954
Stephen Marc documents and interprets history with a focus on Black life. As part of the Changing Chicago documentary project in the late 1980s, Marc chose to record everyday life on the street on Chicago’s South Side. One of the largest documentary photography projects ever organized in an American city, to create Changing Chicago the Focus-Infinity fund 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. Marc’s images for the project are made in the tradition of street photography, capturing ordinary moments—such as adults strolling along busy avenues and children playing in their neighborhoods. He composed each image with attention to careful framing, use of light and shadow and the expressive gestures of his subjects.
In the mid-1990s, Marc diverged from the documentary style he was known for and began his project Soul Searching (1994-2001), for which he created photomontages combining self-portraits and family, found, and other images with references to African American history. In 2000 Marc began documenting Underground Railroad’s sites, and creating montages combing those images with historic documents and photographs as well as images of contemporary life.
Born in Rantoul, Illinois, Stephen Marc completed his BA from Pomona College, Claremont (1976) and MFA from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia (1978). His work is included in the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; the California Museum of Photography, Riverside; the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC. After teaching for twenty years at Columbia College Chicago, he moved to Arizona in 1998. Marc currently serves as a professor at the Herberger Institute for Art and Design at Arizona State University, Tempe.