Tyree Guyton is an artist from Detroit, Michigan, born on August 24, 1955. He is married to Jenenne Whitfield and continues to live in Detroit. Before becoming an artist, Guyton worked as a firefighter and an autoworker and served in the U.S. Army. Guyton studied art at Marygrove College, Wayne State University, and the Center for Creative Studies—now College for Creative Studies. Guyton counts his grandfather, Sam Mackey, and Detroit artist Charles McGee as his greatest influences.
Early Life into Adulthood
Guyton was raised on Heidelberg Street, a residential neighborhood on Detroit's east side, which influenced him throughout his life. in his childhood, he frequently visited the Detroit institute of the Arts with his grandfather. He also grew up during the Detroit riots of 1967. Guyton proceeded to complete high school and serve in the U.S. Army. After his time in the military he decided to pursue his dreams of being an artist. He began taking night classes under the artist, Charles McGee, at the College of the Creative studies.
Since creating the Heidelberg Project with his grandfather in 1986, Guyton has received international recognition as an artist, educator, and community leader. Although he is an honorary director on the Heidelberg Project board of directors, in recent years he has concentrated his efforts on his art exhibitions as well as on lecturing and teaching. In 2007, Guyton accepted a position teaching an honors program at the Wayne State University.
Tyree Guyton's work has been installed and displayed across the world, including a feature in 1999 by the United States Department of State in the Art in Embassies Program with an exhibition in the American Embassy in Quito, Ecuador. Permanent installations of his work have been established in Sydney, Australia, at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and in Mount Vernon, New York.
Tyree Guyton has received the following awards for his contributions as an artist and humanitarian: Wayne County International Artist Award (2003), Award of Recognition, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (2002), Best Known Artist in Metro Detroit, Detroit Free Press (2001), "Michigan Artist of the Year," Governor John Engler, State of Michigan (1992), Humanity in the Arts Award, Wayne State University (1992), "Michiganian of the Year Award," State of Michigan (1991), David A. Harmond Memorial Scholarship (1990), "Testimonial Resolution Award," Wayne County, Lansing, Michigan (1990), "Spirit of Detroit Award," Detroit City Council, Detroit, Michigan (1989).
In 1999, Tyree Guyton was the subject of an HBO Films documentary, "Come Unto Me: The Faces of Tyree Guyton". This film won numerous honors, including an Emmy Award for editing in 2000 and honorable mention at the Sundance Film Festival for director Nicole Cattell.
In 2005, Guyton and the Heidelberg Project were featured on the Vision TV documentary "Urban Shrines", produced by Toronto-based Markham Street Films. In 2007 Guyton's work was included in the French documentary "Detroit: The Cycles of the Mental Machine", featuring Techno artists Mike Banks and Carl Craig, by director Jacqueline Caux. The illustrated children's book, Magic Trash, by Jane Shapiro, covers Guyton's biography and the Heidelberg Project.
- Buffington, Melanie L. (2007). "Art to Bring About Change: The Work of Tyree Guyton". Art Education; Reston. 60: 8.
- Magic Trash: New children's book tells story of Heidelberg Project creator Tyree Guyton, AP, October 07, 2011