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Hillary Bisonó-Ortega

Brooklyn, NY


“So you’re talking about the people’s property change? But what about the people who are renting? They can’t afford it anymore! You can’t afford it. People want to live in Fort Greene. People wanna live in Clinton Hill. The people of Lower East Side, they move to Williamsburg, they can’t even afford fuckin’, motherfuckin’ Williamsburg now because of motherfuckin’ hipsters. What do they call Bushwick now? What’s the word? [Audience: East Williamsburg].” — Spike Lee

I grew up on the corner of Knickerbocker Avenue and Jefferson Street in Bushwick before my family was displaced — I was 12 when I walked down my middle school’s stairs and braced myself for the chilly February air. Instead, I was surprised to see my father’s impatient face as he waved at me to hurry into his car. Inside that cramped and overwhelmingly hot car I learned that we were moving. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to 716 Knickerbocker Ave., nor was I able to properly grieve the loss of a home — a home that gently held my fondest childhood memories. Though I am no fan of gentrification, and especially gentrifiers, "Bushwick, this is my love letter to you" serves as an expression of love for the Bushwick I’ve lost and the Bushwick I’ve gained in my journey of healing. In this mosaic of diptychs, triptychs, and standalone images, I capture the duality of Bushwick. The Bushwick I know, however, is disappearing as emphasized by "Encroaching and the spaces in between" photo installation series.

I would like to thank the Steven Daniel Smallen Memorial Fund and the Art Department Funds for Seniors for their generous support. I would also like to express gratitude to the communities and people who've allowed me to share my stories with them. To Professor Rob Knight, Professor Ruth Lo, Marjorie Johnson, Mrs. Davis, Ms. Breland, John Powell, Bret Olson, my Sadove family, and my Art Major family. To HEOP Class of '21, BLSU, Delta, Joyce, Yassine, Kwamz, Jemima, my family, and most importantly, myself. Thank you all for empowering me and teaching me that home is where you feel loved, appreciated, and safe.

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