White Columns and Shoot the Lobster have announced that Tyree Guyton, a Detroit-based artist and the creator of the Heidelberg Project, is the recipient of the annual White Columns / Shoot the Lobster Award, granted to individuals who create opportunities for both artists and audiences. He will receive a $5,000 cash prize and a commissioned artwork by Scott Reeder, which will be presented to him at a ceremony hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit later this month.
“I want to thank White Columns and Shoot The Lobster for recognizing and supporting what we’ve created,” said Guyton. “When you come to the Heidelberg Project, I want you to thinkreally think! My art is a medicine for the community. You can’t heal the land until you heal the minds of the people.”
Guyton’s career as an artist, educator, and community activist spans at least three decades. He is best known for his work on the Heidelberg Project, an ever-changing outdoor art installation on Guyton’s childhood street in Detroit. Initiated in 1986, the project began as a response to the deterioration of his neighborhood, and many others, after the 1967 riot. The installation now encompasses two city blocks, incorporating found objects, houses, vacant lots, and cars. The Heidelberg Project attracts more than 275,000 visitors annually and serves as a community space.
In 2016, Guyton announced that the Heidelberg Project’s focus would shift from a lone artist’s installation to a site for an “arts-infused community.” “After thirty years, I’ve decided to take it apart piece by piece in a very methodical way, creating new realities as it comes apart . . . I gotta go in a new direction. I gotta do something I have not done before.” Four of the project’s houses will remain in place. They will eventually house a community center, gallery, and an artists’ residency.