Jenenne Whitfield (representing Heidelberg Project)

Before Jenenne Whitfield joined the Heidelberg Project, in Detroit, she worked in banking. But in 1993, she took a wrong turn and found herself on a street that was a colorful and chaotic mix of paint and people, where she asked a paint-spattered man, “What is all this?” The man was artist Tyree Guyton and what he told her sparked an obsession that changed her life. Whitfield could never have imagined giving up her 14-year career to work in a nonprofit arts-related venture, but she recognized this seemingly wrong turn as a higher calling, and embarked on the challenge of a lifetime to become director of the Heidelberg Project, which brings art to neglected neighborhoods. Since then, the Project has expanded its goals to include acquisition and restoration of property in the Heidelberg area, and implementation of community art and education programs.

Why we love Jenenne and Heidelberg Project:

• Their brightly colored polka dots and street art have enlivened the seemingly forgotten Heidelberg area of Detroit, while critiquing the city’s inability to restore and preserve its neighborhoods

• They believe “there is something to gain when we open our minds to creative possibilities. Art is not only transformative, art is life”

• They address the need for art education in the metro-area Detroit public schools by providing workshops and field trips to the Heidelberg Project