What Inspired Me: The Heidelberg Project & Forrest Gump

There’s an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes. Where they’re going, where they’ve been.” Forrest Gump.

My mom and I recently traveled to Detroit to visit the Heidelberg Project, the outdoor community art project created by Tyree Guyton in 1986. Mr. Guyton salvages most of the materials for his museum from the streets of Detroit. The pieces exhale alongside the elements and challenge observers with questions of evolution and time, individualism and spirituality, life, death, urban plight, and urban might. While walking the East Detroit blocks comprising the museum, I found my eyes and my mind drawn to the discarded shoes populating the Project. These weathered, rotting pieces of leather and lace spoke to me about the unique paths we all travel.

Our shoes help tell our stories—about where we’re going and where we’ve been.Shoes 1Shoes 2

An American proverb states: Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. Perspective, in all things, counts. It’s easy to rush to an opinion of others, but decidedly more difficult to consider the experiences that cause a person to make the decisions they make. What is that person’s story? What are their hopes and what are their fears?

In my own life, I know that too often I snap to decisions without considering the consequences for others and myself. I pounce on conclusions of things, places, and most importantly people that I have no business making. What I saw at the Heidelberg Project reminded me that before making any judgments I should consider the shoes.

What do the shoes say about where someone hopes to go and where they’ve been? What do my shoes say about where I’ve been and where I’m going?

Who knows, this perspective might just help me understand the people I meet a little better.

My question, now, is this: what do the shoes you’ve worn say about you? And what do the shoes you plan to wear say about where you’re heading?



  1. How appropriate to equate your experience to the movie “Forrest Gump.” It is one of my favorites. There is so much to be learn through simplicity and you have offered yet another perspective that causes one to think. Thank you for visiting and thank you so much for sharing your views.

  2. Hi Jenenne. Thank you for sharing your comment and thank you for the tremendous artwork that is shared through the Heidelberg Project museum. I look forward to visiting again in either the summer or fall to experience it during a different season and therefore different vantage point!

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