The Heidelberg Project

Photographer Lisa Kereszi's look at Detroit's neighborhood art installation

by Lisa Kereszi

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In a Detroit neighborhood punctuated by little more than defunct traffic lights and abandoned train tracks, Heidelberg Street stands out for its row of colorful houses decorated with repurposed bits of urban detritus and bright paint. I recently spent a little time shooting and surveying the street, the result of artist Tyree Guyton’s 24-year-strong mission (dubbed the Heidelberg Project) to inspire a fading community. Like NYC’s Highline or the New Orleans biennial, the row of houses make another great example of creative urban renewal, transforming the street into an outdoor exhibition.


The craziness extends from houses to lawns, which are like urban gardens of junk, filled with car hoods, cigarette posters, stacks of shoes, vacuum cleaners, appliances, plywood paintings, tires and more. One house, covered with weathered stuffed animals, looks like one of Detroit-born artist Mike Kelley’s Frankenstein pieces.

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A program that aims to “heal communities through art,” the project makes the neighborhood a visually-fascinating destination and an example for potential future art spaces.