November 11, 2023

Moment of Focus Exhibit Curated by Jaypix Belmer - Celebrating the Past, Present and Future of Boston Hip-Hop

Pacey Foster from the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive at UMass Boston connected me with Jaypix Belmer, as Belmer was curating an exhibit on Boston Hip-Hop at Black Market Nubian in Roxbury, MA.

During our initial phone conversation, Belmer and I hit it off.  We discovered a mutual love of creating multiple exposure photographs.  We also both find inspiration in the work of photographer Eugene Richards.

I was honored to have my 1980s images of the Boston Hip-Hop scene on view along with Belmer's contemporary images.  The exhibit coincided with Hip-Hop's 50th anniversary.

Photo by Jaypix Belmer

The Boston Globe's James Sullivan attended Moment of Focus and wove vignettes from the event into his article:  In the early days of hip-hop, Boston made its own history.

He made mention of me and my work:

"His photos from various venues around the city were a prominent feature of the recent “Moment of Focus” exhibit, and they made up the bulk of “Hip-Hop: Seen/Unseen,” an exhibit that ran from August until mid-November in Dewey Square on the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

“When I see my photos, it’s about the youth,” said Nordell, now a professor at American International College in Springfield. He recently donated his negatives to the Hip-Hop Archive."

My images were used to illustrate the article.

A history of Hip-Hop in Boston without acknowledging Rusti Pendleton, shown above scratching with his toes, would be woefully incomplete.

Photo by James Bynum

A scant few of my Boston Hip-Hop images were published in the 80s. The rest would still be unseen if record store owner and historian Brian Coleman had not tracked me down to find out if I had more.  Thanks again Brian!

A big thank you as well to Jaypix Belmer for including my work in the Moment of Focus Hip-Hop Exhibit.

Professor John Nordell teaches courses in the Arts, Media, and Design Program at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at and teaches online Zentangle drawing workshops.