We stumbled upon the Heidelberg Project while on a recent trip to Detroit, MI. I have the Roadtrip America app on my phone which tells you where unique tourist attractions are located all over the United States. Just type in a city and viola! You get an assortment of random places to see and experience. Upon reading the description, Heidelberg instantly became an intriguing place to visit. Pretty much if the description has anything to do with art…I want to see it.
We approached the neighborhood which was sprinkled with abandoned houses.
As we stared at the discarded stuffed animals that now hang from outside the home, I couldn’t help but wonder what stories the walls of this house, or these tossed away toys, would share about their previous owners.
The porches that once shared life, now tell a different story.
After observing the sporadic, seemingly intentional art,
and a polka dotted house…
with a polka dotted car…
I knew I wanted a closer look and to understand the “why” behind this bizarre project.
According to their website, “The Heidelberg Project (“HP”) is a Detroit-based community organization designed to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art. Our mission is to inspire people to appreciate and use artistic expression to enrich their lives and to improve the social and economic health of their greater community.”
The pictures say it all.
“Using art to provoke thought, promote discussion, inspire action and heal communities…” That’s a beautiful thing!
The Heidelberg project covers about 2 blocks and has an overwhelming amount of art to take in at every angle.
We stumbled upon the urban garden that showcased life in the midst of things that were deemed dead.
As we walked the streets, we noticed items that would have been trash, collected to make something truely unique.
While we were there, we spoke to a Heidelberg resident (people do actually live there) who was selling cold bottled water to help fund improvements for her home. She shared with us that one of the artists was nearby and could share more about the Heidelberg project.
We got to meet the artist named Lisa, who created this art piece with bottles, along with a sundial.
Lisa said she wanted to teach people how to tell time with a sun clock.
There was so much to take in as we walked around.
Despite opposition, this project has stood the test of time for 26 years. Tyree Guyton is the founder and artist who started the project. Others in the neighborhood and around the globe have joined Tyree’s efforts over the years.
“When you come to the Heidelberg Project, I want you to think—really think! My art is a medicine for the community. You can’t heal the land until you heal the minds of the people,” says Guyton.
The Heidelberg Project is also committed to educating students in art, community, and environmental education. This education is learned from a series of lesson plans, on site tours and in school presentations.
Supporters of the project do not want neighborhoods in Detroit to be forgotten….and I can guarentee that we will never forget our experience there!
Just follow the polka dotted road.