A few years ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Heidelberg Project, a public art installation that spans multiple city blocks in Detroit, Michigan.
I can’t convey the full effect of this project here. I can post some photos, but it’s certainly not the same. Detroit is a city that has been struggling for some time, and that struggle is reflected here on Heidelberg St., in a community where the mortality rate for young African American males is 55%.
Artists Tyree Guyton and Tim Burke, who live on the street amongst the installations, use found objects from sites all over the city to create their art.
Much of the refuse and found objects used in these installations are plush; charred and dirtied plush, ripped and torn plush missing limbs, plush that have been exposed to the elements since the 1980′s.
There is something so evocative about stuffed animals displayed in such a way. Suddenly something that used to bring comfort doesn’t feel safe at all.
The piece above is called Noah’s Ark.
A grimy octopus sits on the front steps of the house.
Obviously, anyone can look at these images and feel something. For me, seeing plush used as art in this way reaffirmed the importance of what I do and create.
Simply stated, art evokes emotion, and plush does too, in the most basic way. It is soft, it hugs you, and it keeps you company. It participates in the bright, imaginative world of your youth in a way that nothing else can.