Showing posts with the label Michigan

Ambassador Bridge


You Are Love

Hamtramck Disneyland

Detroit Industrial Gallery

Artist Tim Burke transforms discarded Detroit industrial material into art.

The Heidelberg Project

The Heidelberg Project

In the midst of the urban blight of Detroit is a massive art project -- an iterative art project nearly 30 years in the making.

 In 1986, artist Tyree Guyton returned to Heidelberg, the street where he grew up on Detroit’s East Side, and found it in shambles, riddled with drugs and deepening poverty. Bruised by the loss of three brothers to the streets, Guyton was encouraged by his grandfather to pick up a paintbrush instead of a weapon and look for a solution.

Armed with a paintbrush, a broom and neighborhood children, Guyton and Grandpa began by cleaning up vacant lots on Heidelberg Street. From the refuse they collected, Guyton transformed the street into a massive art environment. Vacant lots literally became “lots of art” and abandoned houses became “gigantic art sculptures.” Guyton not only transformed vacant houses and lots, he integrated the street, sidewalks and trees into his mammoth installation and called the work,
 the Heidelberg Project (“HP”). 
- excerpted from Heidleberg Project: History

I stumbled upon mention of the Heidelberg Project as an art and community development project when doing a bit of pre-roadtrip research.  I added it to a list of possibilities should we decide to include Detroit in our roadtrip.

Upon arriving in Detroit, we set out in search of another item on my list only to find it not open to the public and in an area in which I was reluctant to leave the car unattended while I looked into getting access. I then turned to the next item on my list of possibilities: The Heidelberg Project.

At the address I had for the Heidelberg Project, we found a single building covered in giant shoe paintings -- not the expected neighborhood filled with art made from discarded items. A quick web search revealed that this was a office address and that that art was on Heidelberg Street, a few miles away.

On Heidelberg Street, we found a city block littered with art: stuffed animals taking up residence in a burnt-down home, faces painted on concrete blocks, giant clocks painted on boards, tires on stakes, a tree planted in a Hummer buried in a lawn -- art made from refuse.

We circled the block a couple times, then parked on Heidelberg Street and set out to explore on foot.

When you tell people you're going to Detroit, they warn you to be careful, keep your head down, and don't look. It annoyed me greatly. Why would I go except to look and explore? I was very impressed with the Heidelberg Project.

The artist took clothes, shoes, toys, appliances, cars, and other stuff he found around the city, and positioned it in a way that said something.

There were also numerous clock faces painted on boards; each with a different time. The most compelling message of all this stuff and the clocks was "What time is it?"

I looked at all the toys, clothes, shoes, appliances and stuff with wonder and amazement. These things obviously belonged to some one at some time. They represented someone's hopes, dreams and joys. But what of it? Did the former owner of these things run out of time? Did they mean to spend their hard earned money on these things that were on display now as the artist's conception of art? What am I doing with my doing with my time? Is it worthwhile? Am I just collecting stuff? It makes me want to go home and throw away my stuff, except for my rock collection. Years from now, when I'm gone and people are sorting through my stuff, what will they find? How did I spend my time? What time is it? It's time to think about my legacy and what is important to me.

- Sophia

Many years ago, an art teacher challenged my ideas about art. He helped me expand my horizons as to what is art -- that art is creative expression. He made distinction between technical ability and creative ability. He'd tell students copying other's works that they were doing illustration, not art; and then he'd challenge them to be artists. And for the rest of us, he'd teach us just enough theory and technique to enable us to creatively express ourselves. He'd often give us non-traditional medium with which to express ourselves. Exploring the Heidelberg Project brought back fond memories of my past creative expression.

As I looked at the items used to create the art, I saw mostly junk. I saw junk that was once brought value to people's lives. I saw junk that was perhaps once a child's prized possession. I saw junk that was perhaps a waste of money. I saw junk that once cluttered up peoples lives.

As I looked at the arrangement of the items, I saw beauty from trash. I saw things that made me think. I saw things that made me laugh. I saw things I didn't understand. I saw pain. I saw joy. I saw the artistic expression of Tyree Guyton.

I was reminded to not clutter up my life with stuff. I was reminded that people are more valuable than things -- things that will become junk. Build relationships. Collect experiences; not stuff.

- Ben

I transformed some of the photos I captured while exploring the Heidelberg Project into the tiles below. Is it just piles of junk? Is it art? What does it mean?

Go to Detroit. Visit the Heidelberg Project.

number house
human sundial