The American Mural Project (AMP), home of the largest indoor collaborative artwork in the world, today announced the opening of the new exhibition with regular hours beginning Saturday, June 18, 2022. The massive three-dimensional mural—measuring 120 feet long and five stories high—reveals a visual narrative of Americans at work and celebrates the various professions that have shaped American culture over the past century. Founded by artist Ellen Griesedieck in 2001, AMP’s highly-anticipated debut follows 22 years of research and design, mural assembly and installation, and renovation to the historic mill building in downtown Winsted.
Incorporating artistic contributions from thousands of children across the country, the mural features a vivid compilation of three-dimensional sculptural vignettes portraying Americans at work—from heart surgeons to steel workers, firefighters to farmers, school teachers to fabricators of a 747 aircraft, and more. Constructed with unconventional materials including honeycomb aluminum panels, blown glass, clay, reclaimed wood, native indigo, and spackle, the mural offers an optical journey and sensory adventure through the past 100 years of work in America.
A veteran artist, photographer, and designer, Ellen Griesedieck first conceived of the mural in 1999, with a vision to create a giant collaborative artwork that celebrates American ingenuity, productivity, and commitment to work. Depicting real men and women Griesedieck documented in her travels across the country, the extensive project was driven by her mission to empower and challenge others, especially children—not only by educating them on the varying types of work happening around them but by involving them in the mural’s creation.
“It is pretty wonderful to think that this idea, two decades in the making, has come full circle. I have logged a lot of time painting large panels in my studio. Maybe more memorable are the weeks I have spent working on projects with thousands of kids and adults across the country. This is not one artist’s idea but the work of many in collaboration,” notes Ellen Griesedieck, artist and founder of the American Mural Project. “None of this could have happened without help from the same American workers I am honoring in the mural. They created it with me, they shared every tool and innovative idea. The mural is standing thanks to an unprecedented collaboration with kids, teachers, donors, and professional tradespeople.”
Through partnerships with schools, other nonprofits, and professionals in a wide range of fields—including NASA, Boeing, Habitat for Humanity, and HealthCorps—AMP has engaged more than 15,000 students and adults across the country in creating pieces of the mural. AMP has led projects with children from preschool to high school on artwork addressing health, fitness, conservation, energy alternatives, space exploration, and more. Children who have participated in the mural’s creation have blown glass, sculpted clay, danced in paint, learned the indigo-dyeing process, and made relief sculptures in wet spackle. AMP’s multi-state art collaborations are ongoing and intend to provide more children the opportunity to discover and explore interests and abilities in themselves, as well as possibilities in the world, that they may not have imagined before.
“The aspects that the American Mural Project celebrates—innovation, discovery, and ingenuity—match the exact spirit that the workforce here in Connecticut has delivered for many decades, which is why it is so appropriate that this exhibition is on display in our state,” Governor Ned Lamont said. “Viewing this collaborative mural is an incredible educational and artistic experience, and I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to check it out.”
In 2006, AMP purchased two vacant mill buildings and three surrounding acres on Whiting Street in Winsted, Connecticut, adjacent to a beehive of artists and artisans in the Whiting Mill complex, in close proximity to Winsted’s downtown area.
Extensive cleanup of AMP’s property in 2008 was made possible through a Federal Brownfields grant, allowing for the first two phases of renovation to occur. The State of Connecticut awarded a $1 Million challenge grant for the first phase of construction on the mural building, which included raising the roof thirty feet to allow for the installation of the nearly five-story mural, and enabled the building to open to the public on the first level and education programs to begin on-site. The final phase of construction, projected in the forthcoming years, involves the renovation of the second mill building for use as an education and visitor center, the addition of an atrium connecting the two buildings, and the development of the three surrounding acres of grounds for outdoor use.
“Downtown Winsted is well on its way to achieving a true renaissance, and one of the crown jewels of that renaissance is the opening of the American Mural Project. AMP represents a key cultural and artistic addition to the state as a whole, and Winsted is incredibly fortunate to be the host community for this amazing attraction. The mural itself is a stunning sight to behold, and I hope that residents and visitors alike will make it a priority to enjoy this wonder in our own backyard,” says Joshua Steele Kelly, town manager and CEO of the Town of Winchester, Connecticut.
Beyond the mural exhibit, education programs are AMP’s primary focus and include on- and off-site programs for schools, teacher professional development workshops, after-school enrichment sessions, summer programs, as well as an apprentice-style internship program for high school and college students.
“The American Mural Project represents the creative hope and aspirations of many communities. It serves as a beacon of the world we all want to live in someday,” notes Bill Strickland, founder and executive chairman, Manchester Bidwell Corporation, and partner on AMP’s Pennsylvania collaborative project.
AMP is located at 90 Whiting Street in Winsted, Connecticut, and is open Friday and Saturday, 10am–5pm, and Sunday, 12–5pm, year-round. Additional Thursday hours are planned. Check AMP’s website for current hours. $12 adults, $10 seniors and veterans, $5 students, and free for children ages 5 and younger. $25 unlimited access pass, for use during open hours in 2022. Tickets and passes can be purchased at americanmuralproject.org or in person. To view AMP’s extensive video library, click HERE.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ellen Griesedieck is the founder and creator of the American Mural Project (AMP). She began her art career designing logos for professional athletes and photographing for a variety of national print publications, including Sports Illustrated, People, Road and Track, Ladies Home Journal, World Tennis, and Golf. In addition, she covered major sports events, including NFL Football, Wimbledon, PGA Golf and Masters, and the final five Mohammed Ali fights. Ellen’s paintings have been exhibited in New York, Connecticut, and Paris. She has been commissioned to do paintings for The New York Times, Times Mirror Magazines, and CBS Television, as well as for Miller Brewing Co., General Motors, and New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Ellen designed the original Newman’s Own labels and serves as a consultant for the company’s ongoing label designs.
Founded in 2001 by artist Ellen Griesedieck, the American Mural Project (AMP) is a nonprofit organization focused on honoring work in America. AMP is home to the largest indoor collaborative artwork in the world—a three-dimensional mural 120-feet long and five stories high. The mural pays tribute to the American worker and highlights the varying types of work that have shaped the country over the last century. Its mission is to inspire, to educate, to invite collaboration, and to reveal to people of all ages the many contributions they can make to American culture. Programming is currently offered for schools and teachers, after-school partnerships, summer enrichment sessions, and an apprentice-style internship program.
Lead funding for the American Mural Project has been provided by the Newman’s Own Foundation, Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, and the Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Recent additional support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature, the Maximilian E. and Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, and Northwest Community Bank.