Location Name: Street Folk (Detroit, Michigan)
Location Type: Art
Year Completed: 2007
Artist(s): Tyree Guyton
Part of Art X Detroit 2011, a free five-day series of art exhibitions, presentations, readings, discussions, concerts and dance performances, artist Tyree Guyton’s "Street Folk" sought to remind viewers of a problem they often choose to ignore; the plight of the homeless. Located along Detroit’s Edmund Place, just east of Woodward Avenue in the Brush Park neighborhood, "Street Folk" was a temporary art installation from 07 April 2011 to 24 April 2011. Consisting of thousands of painted shoes strewn across the street surface, both in patterns and general disarray, Guyton sought to make a statement by representing the often forgotten people who call the streets home.
Known for his East Side Detroit "Heidelberg Project," Guyton’s peculiar talent of using found objects to cause viewers to ponder complex social problems is evident in this work. In Guyton’s words, "The shoes are a reflection of people, all going in different directions and yet they are all in the streets. The streets have no closing hours; they are open twenty-four hours a day, all year long. You have night people living in the streets, but we’re all living in the streets chasing whatever your life calls for. In some cases you don’t know what your life is calling for. In the end, we are all street folk."
The shoes were meant to represent these people; to tell the stories of their journeys and bring visibility to their plight. Nearly 10,000 shoes were used, mostly acquired by donations and collection of discarded shoes. Often depicting emotional memories, a number of notes that accompanied shoe donations were affixed to a fence that runs along the street. While these shoes were meant to abstractly represent people, they were all worn by actual people. Just as we live our everyday lives, walking and driving on the streets, some of those we pass by have nowhere else to go. Guyton’s thought provoking artworks seek to remind us that "we’re all a paycheck away from the streets" ourselves.Sources