By Eden Baniel
Detroit is a city that is rich in art and culture. Across the city, you can find pieces of art made by local artists scattered throughout shops, displayed in streets, and placed within some of its excellent museums. The Heidelberg Project takes the concept of local art in Detroit one step further by turning a struggling neighborhood into a beautiful work of art.
In 1986, artist Tyree Gutyon decided to return to the street he grew up on: Heidelberg Street. This street, located on the Detroit’s East Side, had struggled with poverty and crime during this period.
Guyton, who had previously lost three of his brothers to the violence on the streets, wanted to find a solution to this problem that didn’t involve more violence. Guyton decided to pick up a paintbrush, and with the help of neighborhood children and some cleaning supplies, began to clean up Heidelberg Street and turn it into a work of art.
The street, filled with vacant lots, abandoned houses, old tires, and other miscellaneous objects, were incorporate into his art pieces as a way to beautify the street in a creative way. Thus, he stayed true to the culture already present within the city he grew up in. He also found ways of utilizing the trees on other nature present on Heidelberg so that his art was able to enhance the landscape around him.
Guyton began by filling the vacant lots with artistic structures and paintings, referring to them as “lots of arts.” He also painted the abandoned houses with large murals and beautiful images, incorporating the tires and other objects, allowing the houses to become “gigantic art sculptures.”
Today, this project is more than just an artistic vision, but a Detroit-based community organization as well. The project that Guyton started uses art rather than violence to improve the lives of people, all while staying true to the rich culture and diversity present within the Detroit area. With Guyton’s mission in mind, The Heidelberg Project is able to inspire many by bringing obscure beauty into something that was once considered lost.
Learn more about the The Heidelberg Project by visiting heidelberg.org.
The Connector Destinations Blog is not an official University endorsement, and is based solely on the opinion of the author.