Joe Conzo, Jr.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Artist
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Artist Bio

Born and raised in the Bronx, Joe Conzo Jr. acquired a passion for photography as a young boy attending the Agnes Russell School on the campus of Columbia University. He continued his formal artistic education at the School of Visual Arts (NYC). During his early development, “Joey” bore witness to the volatile state of South Bronx community activism, and to the vanguard world of New York’s Puerto Rican cultural music scene.

In 2005, Joey was approached by noted New York musicologist and curator Johan Kugelberg, who was engaged in some research of his own into the roots of hip hop culture. The referral came via the legendary Grandmaster Caz, after tending to some inquiries by Kugelberg about any existing photographic images of that era. The meeting between Conzo and Kugelberg resulted in the publication of a seminal book on hip hop culture.

“Born In The Bronx: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop” (2007) has received worldwide acclaim, and has since been translated into the German language. In 2008, the entire collection of images featured in the publication became part of a permanent archive housed at Cornell University. The Cornell Hip Hop Collection sits right alongside the prestigious institution’s copy of The Gettysburg Address document.

Some of those pictures captured by a teen-age boy with his camera, throughout the 70’s and early 80’s, have traveled over land and sea, in one form or another, to various parts of Asia, Europe, and the Americas. They are regarded by genre experts and academia as an important lens into the roots of Hip Hop culture, and as being an integral source for any serious discourse on the movement.

Like most modern photographers, Joey has undergone the transition from film to digital. His work from behind the lens continues to reflect the main tenets of Hip Hop culture. As he once said, “Just because of a camera…,” he has traveled the USA coast-to-coast and has crossed oceans to parts of the world he thought he would never see, and everywhere he went the unfathomable spread of Hip Hop music, culture and dance was irrefutable.

Joe Conzo Jr. continues to lecture, meet with young people, exhibit his work, and attend international events. Francisco Molina Reyes II
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