Rosa Parks Sign at Heidelberg Project Symbol of Adversity, Victory

Guyton was inspired to paint piece to honor civil rights icon's bus demonstration


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Much like Rosa Parks’ notable bus sit-in, Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project resulted from being tired of giving in. Overwhelmed by the deterioration of his old Detroit stomping grounds, Guyton started using object art in 1986 to create a two-block, avant-garde sanctuary, featuring homes embellished with vinyl records, multicolored polka dots, stuffed animals, and more.  

In opposition to the artistic symbol of resistance, Detroit Mayor Coleman Young ordered the demolitions of three Heidelberg homes in 1991. 

Salvaged from demolition of the Fun House was a Rosa Parks street sign adorned with a white oil paint bus. 

The fragment, which now resides at the Detroit Institute of Arts, was procured from a city worker who used it in a protest against the museum in the early ’90s. 

Guyton was inspired to paint the symbol to honor Parks’ bus demonstration.  

Guyton is rethinking his space after more than 30 years of crusading, and the destruction of more Heidelberg houses, such as OJ House and House of Soul, which were set ablaze by an arsonist in 2013. The new model, to be called Heidelberg 3.0, will operate as a self-sustainable cultural village where artists can come together in a city divided.  


The Rosa Parks Heidelberg Fragment can be found at the DIA; 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; dia.org 
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