Large indoor art piece teaches kids about farmers & steel workers

WINSTED, Conn. (WTNH) – “This is loosely based on Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles painting – it’s got a rhythm to it,” veteran artist and photographer Ellen Griesedieck said as she walks beside an enormous work of work.

Like a symphony, this massive mural is nuanced, complex and deeply personal.

“It’s meant to resemble molten steel,” she says, pointing to a vivid yellow and orange wave.

It’s a painted narrative that’s 120 feet long and five stories tall, offering a different story from every vantage point.

“I love using building materials,” she said.

The scope of the American Mural Project was unimaginable when Griesedieck felt a creative spark in 2001.

“It was 22 years since that idea came up,” she said. “It’s the largest, three-dimensional collaborative indoor project that we can find.”

And now it’s about to open to the public, teaching kids about the American dream through visual vignettes of real, everyday people who make our country go round.

“When I’m painting them, I say, ‘Edwin is a wonderful guy, he’s heroic, he’s also gentle,’” she said, pointing to her rendition of a police officer. “I have to paint that.”

She spent quality time with everyone from steel workers to farmers.

“As you get close to it, it’s a whole world,” she said, pointing to the farmland.

She also mixed with school children – about 15,000 around the United States – working their creations into the mural.

“You can see there’s kelp in here that the kids pulled off the beach,” Griesedieck said, pointing to a section that depicts Maine.

“It’s incredible, really, really incredible,” Taylor Healy, now 29-years-old, said.

She worked on the Maine project when she was 14 and learned so much about communities, new to her.

“The building of my confidence at that young age to truly feel like I was contributing with the piece of artwork I was putting in to become a part of something so big,” she said.

Believe it or now, the mural isn’t done. Each space will continue to be filled with projects from the school children.

“As much as this is a tribute to working people, it’s really about what people can do together that they couldn’t possibly do by themselves,” the artist said.

While the state contributed funds to make the mural a reality, Griesedieck is now looking for donations to fill this old mill with artistic workshops and more.

“What we need to see here is this place filled with kids,” she said. “We need every school, in Connecticut and Massachusetts, coming on field trips.”

Pieces continue to be added with thought and precision.

It’s a place to explore, to learn nothing is impossible, and no idea is too big.

“Yes, it’s very satisfying,” Griesedieck said. “It’s really exciting.”

This incredible work of art in Winsted opens to the public on June 18.

Click here for more information.

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