Location Name: The Heidelberg Project (Detroit, Michigan)
Location Type: Art
Year Began: 1986
Artist(s): Tyree Guyton and Sam Mackey
The Heidelberg Project began on the East Side of Detroit in 1986. Artist Tyree Guyton and his grandfather Sam Mackey sought to use art to improve their blighted community. The outdoor art project is part political protest and part a visionary way to spur community involvement through creativity. Constantly evolving, the Project has transformed a hardcore inner-city neighborhood into one in which residents took pride and where visitors are many and welcomed. Over the years, vacant homes and lots have been made into art; as well as the streets, sidewalks and trees.
While many in the art world have begun to recognize Guyton’s work, the Heidelberg Project has not been without its share of critics. Viewed by some as garbage and trash adorning city blocks in a community with little hope, many have sought to have the Project dismantled. In November 1991, then Detroit Mayor Coleman Young had three Heidelberg houses demolished. In 1999, Mayor Dennis Archer continued Young’s efforts and took more houses down. The heated debate over whether or not Heidelberg was an eyesore seems to have ended. While critics remain, the movement Heidelberg has started is showing its progress in the neighborhood. Visitors flock to see the strange artworks and community members benefit from their art education programs; especially children. It appears that Guyton is realizing his goals in helping the community and creating new hope through his work.Sources