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The Heidelberg Project

In 1986 in Detroit, Michigan Tyree Guyton decided to put his restlessness over revulsion to work in response to the dilapidated structures present in his hometown, especially in the area he grew up on Heidelberg Street. Sam Mackey, his grandfather, had long promoted Guyton’s love of painting and art. Together they took on the insurmountable mission of cleaning up their street, beginning with the abandoned and torn down areas.

They saw more than empty lots but also opportunity. By using what could be found they craftily transformed it into unrestricted and imaginational works of art, and their vision changed their rundown street into a continual neighborhood art installation and the beginning of the Heidelberg Project.

This venture started as an artful protest by Guyton in response to the gloomy surroundings, and now consists of a street filled with artwork. Other artists and volunteers contribute their time and skillsets to perk up the street. The Heidelberg group works with local public schools and children to further the essence of community through education and art, providing a retreat in once un-motivating surroundings.

The Heidelberg Project provokes the ever long question of what is art? Though artists and art lovers alike see the stimulating street as innovative, it is not without critics who deem the collection as merely colorful, piled-high junk. Whether you think it is a masterful idea or not, it can’t be denied that this showcase of real world art is a concrete example of reusing and recycling.

We know that recycling can make an environmental difference, but the street presentation actually takes it a step further than material repurposing and even the production of art itself. On a larger scale, it seeks to create a few smiles as well. The bright features are surely a delight for children in the neighborhood.

Taking the disheartening and turning it into something better is the ultimate recycling project. Meaningful art is used to conjure and propel inspiration, and that is just what this project does.

Check out their art photo gallery for a little creative repurposing inspiration.

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