History Through the Negatives

Robin Hoecker
September 01, 2002
a face created by millions of pictures

I went to the Unity March in October of 2000 and began to take pictures, learning photography as I went along. What I saw that day, and later in my developed photographs, I could not forget. I wanted people to see what I had seen. The crying and laughing, the anger and fear—it was historical. You can almost hear and feel these emotions if you look closely at the tiny photographs of the mosaic. Had I been good at photography, the image you see would not exist. Making the best of my mistakes, I used the overexposed and underexposed photographs to create the face of Paul Robeson, a well-known civil rights activist and African-American leader. In a photojournalism class, I learned to show people in relationship to what's going on in the world around them. When I took my photographs, I wanted to capture the detail of the protesters and through them grasp what was happening. In my study of global inequalities, I try to understand why certain groups are always at a disadvantage. Motivated by the inequalities going on around me, I focused my thesis research on the history of black student protests at Penn State. This photomosaic is a visual representation of everything I have learned in the last four years. By creating this piece I was able to use art as a different medium to see the full link between the past and present, between what is happening at Penn State and in the rest of the world.

four or more picture of man, woman, man at desk, woman in custody

Robin Hoecker received her B. Phil. in International Development with minors in French and International Studies and with honors in communications and African-American studies in May 2002 from the Department of Undergraduate Education and the Schreyer Honors College. Her adviser for this project was Christine Clark-Evans, Ph.D., associate professor of French, Women's Studies, and African and African-American Studies in the College of the Liberal Arts, 333 S. Burrowes Bldg., University Park, PA 16802; 814-865-1960; cxc22@psu.edu. Funding provided by the Department of Undergraduate Education and the Schreyer Honors College.

Last Updated January 10, 2014