Prof. Jackson comments on Tyree Guyton...

The Detroit News

New Tyree Guyton exhibit forged by fire
by Michael Hodges and Donna Terek

Tyree Guyton, artist and founder of Detroit's Heidelberg Project, is no stranger to calamity. On two occasions in the 1990s, city bulldozers flattened abandoned houses — five, in all — that the artist had "decorated" with found objects. Guyton launched the Heidelberg Project in 1986 with his first wife, Karen, and his grandfather, artist Sam Mackey, as an act of artistic protest to spotlight the blight and abandonment in the east side neighborhood around Heidelberg Street and Mt. Elliott where Guyton grew up. Mame Jackson, professor emerita of art history at Wayne State University, has been involved with Heidelberg from the very start, serving for 10 years on the project's board of directors. She calls Guyton's upbeat response to the onslaught "magnificent — and it's not like he hasn't gone through a lot of pain." But Jackson argues there's more than just fighting back going on. "I think Tyree sees his role from a higher level," she said. "It's interesting how resilient he's been, but it's not just resilience in the face of brutality. It embodies a larger view — thinking about art as a process rather than a precious object. You can wreck the physical thing," she added, "but you can't wreck the spirit."