Detroit artist Tyree Guyton to represent U.S. at Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture / Urbanism in China

Detroit’s famed Heidelberg Project creator to take part in international dialogue on art & architecture, culture & community  

How can architecture and design act as catalysts for change? How can they make a place better by creating a more functional and sustainable living, working and playing environment?   

These questions are at the heart of the internationally esteemed Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism launching this month in China, and famed Detroit installation artist Tyree Guyton, representing the United States, will offer some answers. “It’s really about connecting with people,” says Guyton. “I’ll be bringing some ideas to Shenzhen and at the same time learning about the culture of this new megacity. It’s a wonderful opportunity and the timing is perfect.”  

An innovative platform for international exchange, the 2015 Biennale features a select group of 12 artists, architects and designers from around the world in an exhibition entitled “Re-Living the City." Guyton, renowned for transforming his impoverished Detroit neighborhood into a two-block-long art installation, the Heidelberg Project, was chosen as one of just four U.S. participants. He was awarded funding to collaborate on a site-specific collage that addresses the role of architecture in existing, human-made environments.  

“The fact that Tyree Guyton was plucked from Detroit to take part in this high-profile exchange of ideas speaks to what he’s done in his community that other communities are interested in,” says Jenenne Whitfield, executive director of the Heidelberg Project. “Architecture today is about so much more than creating new, concrete forms that people must conform to. Instead, we’re challenged to think about how we can create from existing culture and community.”  

Tyree Guyton has done just that for nearly 30 years with the Heidelberg Project, one of the longestrunning site-specific art installations in the country. Covering two sparsely populated residential blocks on Heidelberg Street with arresting collections of found objects and vivid paintings, the site is a Detroit landmark and tourist attraction, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors annually from across the globe. The artist’s work has been showcased at museums worldwide, including a current retrospective at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. It also inspired the Heidelberg Project nonprofit, which has offered free arts programs to thousands of children on the street and in Detroit and suburban schools alike.  

Thirty months of exhibits, events and celebrations kicked off this fall to mark the Heidelberg Project’s upcoming 30-year anniversary in April 2016.

For details on the 2015 Shenzhen Biennale, click here.