The Heidelberg Project, Detroit. Photograph: © J. Ashley Nixon
Urban environmental artist Tyree Guyton has been leading an urban art movement in Detroit since 1986, in and around Heidelberg Street in the city’s East End. Over many years the neighbourhood has been colourfully transformed into an indoor/outdoor art gallery. Guyton was inspired by his grandfather, Sam Mackey, to pick up a paintbrush and use it around his family home. The product was a multi-coloured polka dot rendering of the exterior.
In what became the Heidelberg Project, Guyton worked with other artists such as Ernie Warrick, Tim Burke and local school children painting more buildings and creating sculptures from found and recycled objects in the surrounding vacant lots. Toys, shoes, clocks and more are collected and curated. Rich and funky, sometimes junky, stories crafted within a real, living canvas that have inspired creative thinking and actions on urban blight.
The project’s mission is to “inspire people to appreciate and use artistic expression to enrich their lives and to improve the social and economic health of their greater community.”
The Heidelberg Project has been challenged with demolitions twice (in 1991 and 1999) and several house fires, widely thought to be arson. But it is still working on its program of art and education and community development, attracting more than a quarter-million visitors annually to this urban environmental art gallery.
The Heidelberg Project can be visited any time of the year and is located at 3600 Heidelberg Street, Detroit, MI, 48207. While the Heidelberg Project is copyright protected by law, photography is accepted for non-commercial purposes.
Locations for urban art in Detroit
Here are the locations explored in this series about urban art in Detroit:
- Lincoln Street Art Park
- Grand River Creative Corridor
- The Heidelberg Project (this article)
- Dequindre Cut
- The Spirit of Detroit
Photographs from Detroit
For more images of Detroit, please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography
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