BUSHWICK — Artist Danielle DeJesus used to be embarrassed to tell people that she grew up in Bushwick.
Living on Jefferson Street near Wilson Avenue used to mean playing in empty lots that doubled as drug-deal locations and knowing which crackheads to avoid.
But now, even though her mother still lives on the block, it's a totally different world — and she's "the cool kid" for growing up there, she said.
It's those changes that inspired DeJesus, who now lives in nearby Ridgewood, to capture the neighborhood in her upcoming art exhibit, she said.
"I want people to see what Bushwick means to me, the beauty that I see in it," said the artist, 27.
The show, "Made in Bushwick," which largely focuses on photography, depicts scenes from the neighborhood over the past seven years, including portraits of both longtime residents and newcomers.
Some of the photos feature locals who have since died, like a man named Carmelo who lived in illegally converted basements for years. Once his building was bought out, Carmelo — like many of DeJesus's former neighbors — had little recourse, the artist said.
He ended up staying in DeJesus's mom's basement until he found new housing, she explained.
Other photos are portraits of people she grew up with.
"Seeing the drastic changes and cultures and how fast things are happening — that’s what inspired me to go forward with this project and kind of preserve what I know as Bushwick," DeJesus said. "It's kind of what locals see Bushwick as."
Since graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a photography degree and coming back to the area, DeJesus drifted from many of her old neighbors.
The photos memorialize what she remembers as her childhood home, she said.
"I wanted to hold onto what I grew up with," she said. "I know it's going to be gone one day."
"Made in Bushwick" will go on display at The Living Gallery, 1094 Broadway, starting April 2.