June 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm

New work rises from ashes of burned houses at Heidelberg Project

A rash of fires that destroyed or damaged several Heidelberg Project houses in the past year hasn’t stopped the organization from creating new art.

Among the most recent projects is a tribute to “House of Soul” torched in an arson fire in November. The art installation, erected in late April, displays strings of records hanging from a wooden “T” on the platform where the house once stood.

“It’s not as big as the houses themselves, (but) there’s a constant energy going on on Heidelberg Street,” said Jenenne Whitfield, executive director for The Heidelberg Project. “The work is continuous. The Heidelberg Project is just an evolution. Several of the fire sites have work in progress.”

Children are invited to the Heidelberg Project to make their own art during the One 313 Workshops that start Saturday.

Over the past year, several Heidelberg Project creations have been destroyed or damaged by fire, including the “Party Animal House” — also referred to by locals as the “Doll House,” “Clock House,” “War House,” “Penny House,” “Numbers House” and “Obstruction of Justice House.”

The ongoing arson investigation has yet to yield any new information, said Donald Dawkins, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Whitfield said the project’s biggest accomplishment is the installation of solar lights in the area.

“It’s for the safety of our residents, for the safety of the community,” she said. “It helps deter crime. We’re definitely taking stronger security precautions.”

The Heidelberg Project stretches over several blocks on the city’s east side and uses vacant houses, dolls, records and other objects. It draws visitors from across the world. About 500 people visit daily during the warmer months, Whitfield said.

The project began in 1986 when artist Tyree Guyton and his late grandfather, Sam Mackey, began nailing objects onto abandoned houses as an act of artistic expression and social protest.

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