The Heidelberg Project in Detroit

More from the Heidelberg Project

More from the Heidelberg Project, photo by DetroitDerek.

I have been planning to write something about The Heidelberg Project in Detroit for quite a while now. This morning, I read an unsettling report about fires at the project from Derek that tipped my hand.

At you can learn all about this amazing project:

The Heidelberg Project, bearing the name of the street on which it exists, was started in 1986 by Tyree Guyton. He was assisted by his grandfather, Sam (Grandpa) Mackey (deceased), and his former wife, Karen Guyton. Tyree was raised on Heidelberg Street and, at the age of 12, witnessed the tragic effect of the Detroit riots – from which he claims the City of Detroit never recovered. Though once racially integrated, many neighborhoods have become segregated urban ghettos characterized by poverty, abandonment, and despair

Armed with a paintbrush, a broom, and neighborhood children, Guyton, Karen, and Grandpa began by cleaning up vacant lots on Heidelberg and Elba Streets. From the refuse they collected, Guyton began to transform the street into a massive art environment. Vacant lots literally became “lots of art” and abandoned houses became “gigantic art sculptures.” Guyton not only transformed vacant houses and lots, he integrated the street, sidewalks, and trees into his mammoth installation and called his work on Heidelberg Street, the Heidelberg Project.

I don’t think there’s any way that you can get a sense of this from one photo. Fortunately Derek has more photos from the Project (slideshow) and you can see a whole lot more photos of the Heidelberg Project on Flickr including those in the Heidelberg Project pool.

Be sure to also check out the video of Tyree Guyton explaining the Heidelberg Project and the new book from Wayne State University Press, Connecting the Dots: Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project.

3 thoughts on “The Heidelberg Project in Detroit

  1. The Heidelberg Project isn’t “art”, it’s collected garbage. The people that live near it don’t want it, but wealthy suburbanites (ie: those that don’t have to have this junk in THEIR neighborhood) tout Guyton as some sort of genius. He’s a nutcase who’s collected junk, and defaced various stuff around the city with his graffiti “dots” all over, thereby making the City of Detroit look just that much more crappy.

    If you think this is “art”, put it in YOUR neighborhood. Then let’s see how much you love it. The residents who have to suffer this blight don’t. Shame the whole thing didn’t burn down.


  2. hello Tyree i was one of the students at the Ella Sharp museum my sister Emily was also there so she decided to paint her room in polka dots we will send you a picture when it is finished i know you have a lot of people that send you messages but if you can please reply to my email and thank you for letting realize that you can bloom were ever you are planted.


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