Heidelberg Project - The Dainty Squid

Heidelberg Project

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


It's been well established I like weird public art, right? For years, and years I've been seeing photos of the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, Michigan. Even before I knew what this strange art project was called I had a major crush on that darn polka dotted house. (Don't worry, you'll know exactly which one I'm talking about when you see the photos!) For some reason I had it in my head that Detroit was really far away so I never made the trip up there. Last weekend Jeff mentioned something about taking a trip up to Detroit for the day. I was a little concerned with timing, especially when he insisted I wouldn't have to take Klaus to my parents. To my surprise Detroit really is close, an easy breezy 2.5 hour trip. (Jeff says "Of course it was an easy drive, you slept the whole way!")

The Heidelberg Project was started by Tyree Guyton in 1986. HP describes itself as "an outdoor community art environment." Everything there is made from recycled materials or found objects, most of which salvaged from the streets of Detroit. Each work is made to tell a story about current issues plaguing society.

Found object art is my absolute favorite, no ifs, ands, or butts about it. The Heidelberg Project was perfect. I loved every second of being there. I could have easily spent a few more hours soaking in every details. I had seen tons and tons of photos prior to my visit but nothing really can prepare you for what it's like to experience in person. There is so much to see. Plus there were a bunch of cats + black squirrels. BONUS!

Heidelberg Project, detroit, polka dot house

Twice in the past the HP has dealt with partial demotion and then in more recent times has been the subject of arson. Over the 30 last years, Tyree Guyton has created twenty house installations but only two remain. Needless to say, I'm kicking myself for not getting up there before nine of the buildings burnt down in 2013 and 2014.

It was recently announced that over the next two years the HP will be dismantled. The project's spokesperson said "there will always be a footprint of the project, just not as people have known over the years." I'm very curious to see what happens over the next few years. Apparently even the creator of the project isn't quite sure what will take place exactly. From here on out I'd like to make annual trips up to visit, and photograph the HP, in whatever form it takes on.

 Heidelberg Project, detroit, 2016

Despite the abundance of photos I took, I still don't think I managed to capture all that is the Heidelberg Project. It's quite the site! If you'd like to read more about the Heidelberg Project you can do so on their official website. You can donate, volunteer, and even check out photos from past. I definitely recommend making a trip there before any further dismantling occurs!
xoxo

PS. If you're into this sort of stuff but on the west side of the US - be sure to check out Noah's Art.

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15 thoughts

  1. Check out Randyland in Pittsburgh if you haven't yet.

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    1. It's been on my list for some time but I still haven't made it there. I'll make it a priority! :)

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  2. Wonderful shots, as usual. :) what camera do you use?
    Greetings from Dresden, Germany!
    Bolzi

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    1. Thank you! I use a Canon 70D.

      I actually have a whole list of my camera equipment here, if you're curious.
      http://www.thedaintysquid.com/2015/08/my-camera-equipment.html

      :)

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  3. I love this so much! All of those dolls are totally my jam. Beautiful photos, as always. I only went to Detroit once the whole time I lived in Ohio - definitely should've explored more!

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    1. I was definitely thinking of you while we were there, figured it'd be right up your alley! I took SO many doll photos. They were just everywhere.

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  4. wow! we went in 2013 and it was still a whole block of houses. i didn't realize how much had burned down. I really loved the house covered in records, and the one covered in stuffed animals. here is my post about it: http://raesock.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-heidelberg-project.html
    I'm sad that is has been damaged so much, I wonder what they are going to turn it into.
    Did you guys go to the abandoned zoo? We tried, but I'm too much of a chicken and was nervous about jumping the fence. I've heard it is really cool though!

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    1. Oh, awesome! Can't wait to go look at your photos when I'm done with this comment. Same though - I didn't realize how much burned down until I started researching. Such a bummer!

      To be honest, we didn't even think about the abandoned zoo. There is just SO much abandonment up there it was a little overwhelming.

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  5. This place looks like complete heaven for you, Kaylah! I loved each and every one of those weird art pics. We had something similar when I lived in Safety Harbor, Florida. We called them the art houses. They have mirrors, cans, old vinyl recorrds, and lots of broken pieces that were I'm guessing, glued to the outside of the houses. Even the lawns are covered in art sculptures and cool novelty stuff. Anyways, just thought I'd share! Love this post :)

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    1. That sounds amazing! I'll definitely have to remember that if I'm ever in the area.
      :)

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  6. I love the Heidelberg Project! I am from Detroit originally, but have oddly enough never checked this place out!

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  7. I am so in love with that polka dot house! Seems like Detroit has an amazing art scene shaping up, I've heard of a few houses like this popping up over there.

    Kaili | weirdwonderfulwanderlust.blogspot.com

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  8. Looks incredible but, shoot! I'm sorry to hear about the arson. I've wanted to visit for awhile but we have so much coming up I kinda doubt I'll get to see what's left.

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  9. wow, what a great project! bummed i never knew about it and it's about to be too late.
    thought of you yesterday when i took the boyfriend over to randyland. (since he lives in connecticut he understandably never heard of randy or his houses.) it was the perfect sunny day to be out and about among the mannequin heads, dinosaurs, doors, mirrors, chairs, ladybugs, etc. #swoon

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