This continually-evolving art project is an ode to the artist’s home neighborhood.
Created by artist Tyree Guyton, The Heidelberg Project is the product of the Guyton’s dismay when he returned to his home neighborhood of Heidelberg on Detroit’s east side near to find it wracked by poverty and the aftershocks of the 1967 riots. Inspired by his grandfather, Guyton, accompanied by neighborhood children, began cleaning up the streets and creating art with the discarded items they found. The project began with Guyton painting houses on Heidelberg Street in multicolored dots and attaching found objects to them to create playful and meaningful scenes.
Centerpieces of the Heidelberg Project include the People’s House, or Dotty Wotty, the colorful dotted house that Guyton grew up in an still owns. The Numbers House is adorned in numbers inspired by a former owner’s dreams of winning the lottery, and took on a new meaning when neighborhood children used the numbers to learn how to count.
Today, the Heidelberg Project refers to both the outdoor art exhibition and the community organization it spawned, which aims to improve the lives of people in similarly struggling neighborhoods through art. The Heidelberg Project website describes this goal as rooted in a belief that “a community can re-develop and sustain itself, from the inside out, by embracing its diverse cultures and artistic attributes as the essential building blocks for a fulfilling and economically viable way of life.”
The Heidelberg Project’s virtual tour is available on their website, and includes digitized versions of installations that have been retired from the physical site.
Find the outdoor art exhibit at 3600 Heidelberg St, Detroit, MI 48207.