Detroit’s Heidelberg Project: Empowering Communities through Recycled Art

(Image: ellenm1, cc-3.0)

Detroit is a haven of spectacular modern ruins, from elegant towers and grand theatres repurposed as parking lots to abandoned houses standing alone amid cleared neighbourhoods.  But in a refreshing departure from the desolation and decay, or, more accurately, as an antidote to it, a two block area of Detroit’s East Side has been transformed into a recycled art installation dubbed the Heidelberg Project.

(Images: ellenm1, cc-3.0)

Founder Tyree Guyton uses everyday, discarded objects to turn rundown buildings into works of art.  But there’s more to the Heidelberg Project than simply brightening up one of the city’s many blighted neighbourhoods.  It’s about educating people – especially children – about art and community, and transforming lives through the power of creativity.

(Images: ellenm1, cc-3.0

The website states: “…children walk to school past burned-out houses, rubble, debris, crime and decay. Our purpose is to offer them another view, another perspective – to positively change the environment the children see every day. In the process, we help build self-esteem, encourage cooperation and foster a sense of pride in their community.”

(Images: ellenm1, cc-3.0

More than 25 years after it was founded, the world renowned Heidelberg Project continues to “provoke thought, promote discussion, inspire action and heal communities”.  Above all, it offers a vision for the future and encourages people to think outside the box to save forgotten and abandoned neighbourhoods.

(Images: ellenm1, cc-3.0

(For another abandoned building transformed into recycled art, don’t miss Houston’s Tunnel House installation.  If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our Archives.)


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