Primarily a painter and an installation artist, Tyree Guyton has also been described as an urban environmental artist. He has waged a personal war on urban blight on Detroit's East Side, transforming his childhood neighborhood into a living indoor/outdoor art museum. Through his art, Tyree has drawn attention to the plight of Detroit’s forgotten neighborhoods and spurred discussion and action.
“When you come to the Heidelberg Project, I want you to think—really think! My art is a medicine for the community. You can’t heal the land until you heal the minds of the people,” says Tyree. This iconic colorfully painted polka dotted neighborhood, which symbolizes our society’s diversity, has played a vital role in transforming the visual indignities of poverty and have placed an international spotlight in this particular community.
Recognized as one of the most powerful art environments in the world, the HP anchors work in: Reinvention and Revitalization of Urban Spaces, Politics of Creativity, Urban Renewal and Education, Urban Ecology and Environmental Justice through Public Art. As the Heidelberg Project celebrates its 30th anniversary, Tyree’s hope is that the community will assume a larger role in the continued evolution of the Heidelberg Project.
Tyree studied at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and in 2009 was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Art. He exhibits his work extensively throughout the United States and the world. Tyree’s art is featured in the Detroit Institute of Arts, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum of Harlem and many others. His work as an artist has earned him over 18 awards, locally and nationally. Tyree has also been featured in major publications, books, and television (including the Oprah Winfrey Show) and was the subject of the Emmy Award Winning Documentary, Come Unto Me, the Faces of Tyree Guyton; and more recently the subject of a book published in 2007 by WSU Press, Connecting the Dots, Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project—a 2008 Michigan Notable Book. Tyree is married and continues to live and work in the city of Detroit.