The Heidelberg Project (HP) is a Detroit based community organization designed to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art.
HP was founded 26 years ago by Tyree Guyton who returned to the street where he grew up on Detroit’s eastside and found it riddled with drugs and deepening poverty. Bruised by the loss of three brothers to the streets, Guyton was encouraged by his grandfather to pick up a paintbrush instead of a weapon to look for a solution. He then transformed vacant lots and abandoned houses into an outdoor arts environment geared to awaken the community to its potential. Over the years HP has become a beacon of hope in the community and is now the third-most visited cultural destination in Detroit.
The Heidelberg Project’s Art, Community & Environmental education program (ACE2) was developed in 2010 to supplement the lack of art education in Detroit by providing art education to students in schools where art programming has been cut or eliminated. The ACE2 program includes an on-site educational field trip to the Heidelberg Project and a visit with Tyree Guyton up close and personal at his studio. The ACE2 program also includes a classroom component which is facilitated by HP docents (teaching artists) who meet with students 1-2 times a week to implement a series of projects that incorporate art with core academic subjects including social studies, science, math, and language arts.
In addition to making art in the classroom, students will work together to build a community project at their school. Students will also showcase their work at an annual art show at the school and on-site at the Number House on Heidelberg Street in May.
Since its inception in 2010 ACE2 has provided art instruction to more than 400 students in Detroit area schools. We have developed lesson plans that meet Grade Level Content Expectations and Common Core Standards and an educational committee that oversees the curriculum development of the program.
In January 2013 we began working with two schools here in Detroit (Clark Preparatory Academy (a Detroit Public school) in the Morningside neighborhood on the eastside and Cesar Chavez Academy (a charter school) in southwest Detroit.) We invited these student on a field trip to meet to meet with Tyree Guyton and to take a guided tour at the Heidelberg Project. Our ACE2 Program Coordinators trained and deployed eight docents (teaching artists) to work with these students and we recently launched the classroom component in February. The docents will work with the students on a weekly basis to provide art instruction for the remainder of the school year.
Our program is an important part of the curriculum as it provides art instruction to students who have little or no access to art education at their school. ACE2 incorporates art with core academic subjects and also encourages students to explore hidden talents they didn’t know they had. The program helps students imagine new possibilities of what art can be while also teaching them the transformative value of art and creativity to reshape their environment and community. For example, last year students repurposed discarded tires to build a garden at their school. They took pride in their new garden, and took responsibility to care forand maintain it.