In the 1980s, Heidelberg Street, Detroit was considered one of the more run-down neighborhoods in the city, with crime and poverty and dilapidated buildings as far as the eye could see. On top of the cycle of poverty, artist Tyree Guyton returned to Heidelberg Street dealing with his own personal tragedy, the loss of his brothers. Guyton’s grandfather pushed him to channel that pain into something constructive, so he began his work that transformed the neighborhood from a slum to a dynamic piece of art. This was not well received at first but eventually, it became a mainstay in Detroit culture and identity
Guyton’s goal with the Heidelberg Project as well as his art, in general, has been to both revitalize his neighborhood and to bring attention to the hardships faced by people living in low-income neighborhoods in cities and he has succeeded in both aspects. What was once a broken neighborhood is now a sprawling art project that is an inseparable part of Detroit’s identity as a city. Tours of the neighborhood can be arranged and lectures on the history and mission of the Heidelberg Project occur frequently for anyone interested in learning more about this urban canvas.
Cover photo by Mike Boening Photography via Flickr