Heidelberg Project Favorite 



Jan 15 1986


Detroit, Michigan

The Heidelberg Project is an outdoor art project in Detroit, Michigan. It was created in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton and his grandfather Sam Mackey ("Grandpa Sam") as an outdoor art environment in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood on the city's east side, just north of the city's historically African-American Black Bottom area. The Heidelberg Project is in part a political protest, as Tyree Guyton's childhood neighborhood began to deteriorate after the 1967 riots. Guyton described coming back to Heidelberg Street after serving in the Army; he was astonished to see that the surrounding neighborhood looked as if "a bomb went off".

"When Detroit native Tyree Guyton returned to his hometown after serving in the army, he was shocked by what he saw. It was as if "a bomb went off," he later stated. The scenes that welcomed Guyton home were images of a city that had rapidly declined after the 1967 riots; the once-flourishing metropolis was literally falling into ruins. The changes were most evident in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood, where Guyton had grown up.

You could almost say a bomb went off inside Guyton, but one of a different sort: an explosion of creativity as opposed to destruction. The artist wanted to demolish the decay that had overtaken the city, and literally transform the lives of the people around him. With the help of his grandfather Sam Mackey, Guyton began using paint and found-objects to decorate abandoned houses and set up outdoor art installations in the surrounding neighborhood. From the mind of one man hoping to inspire change, The Heidelberg Project was born. Clearly, Guyton's motto, "Stick and stay, and it will pay," has certainly paid off: what began on Heidelberg Street turned into a full-blown art rejuvenation project, and has since captured the interest (and hearts) of people the world over." (MutualArt.com)

By building an outdoor museum in the heart of an urban community, the Heidelberg Project restored a sense of hope to a large number of Detroit’s residents while helping them to understand that it’s going to take all kinds of people to keep this project, and this city, vital. We believe the Heidelberg Project will jump-start a new paradigm, where art becomes a catalyst for positive change, economic development and racial integration. It’s already happening and it’s phenomenal to watch."

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