Awarded the "Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence", the Heidelberg Project is an outdoor art environment and a Detroit-based organization which sets out to enhance the lives of the community through the power of art. Located on Detroit's east side, just north of the city's historically African-American Black Bottom area, The Heidelberg Project was created in 1986 as a political protest after the neighborhood deteriorated after the riots of 1967.
The artist, Tyree Guyton, a painter, and sculptor, along with his wife and grandfather Sam Mackey, set out on a mission to transform their neighborhood into a stunning, outdoor gallery to share with is fellow neighbors. Guyton described his return to Heidelberg Street after time spent in the Army as it looked like "a bomb went off."
Initially, Guyton's vision included painting a series of houses with bright dots of a variety of colors and securing salvaged items to them. An evolving work of art, these simple visual improvements transformed this inner-city neighborhood where people didn't feel comfortable walking day or night, into a place where neighbors took pride and visitors were even welcomed.
The area, although known for crime and high poverty rates, became known for its art scene as the neighborhood grew and Tyree Guyton recruited the children on the block to contribute to the various art projects. Above all, the main goal was to develop the Heidelberg Project into the city's first indoor and outdoor museum, complete with a creative art center, community garden, and more.
Tours are available for groups to explore the history of the Heidelberg Project as well as key installations and the philosophy behind Guyton's work.
Cover Image Photo Credit: Brett Sayles from Pexels