Must See Tribute to American Workers

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Photo courtesy of the American Mural Project
Forty feet from the mural are double balconies. The first is 12 feet off the ground and the second is 22 feet high. They make for easier viewing of the mammoth artwork.

This Friday, Saturday or Sunday, drive 40 minutes to Winsted, one of Connecticut’s oldest mill towns. Then, visit the American Mural Project (AMP) at 90 Whiting Street. It’s a repurposed 1882 hosiery mill that once made socks for the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

Brace yourself as you enter the renovated factory with its 25-foot raised angular roof because to your left is a jaw-dropping 120-foot long by 48-foot-tall three-dimensional mural. It honors American workers over the last century. The in-progress mural is the brainchild of Connecticut artist Ellen Griesedieck, who founded the non-profit in 2001.

Builders of America

Her bigger-than-life depictions of real American workers whom she met and photographed are mesmerizing. She’s recreated musicians, auto workers, heart surgeons, firefighters, police sergeants, fishermen and more in their work settings. Contractors build a Habitat for Humanity house. A Connecticut dairy farmer extends her arms under a cow for milking. Aircraft mechanics assemble a 747. The collage is part painting, part sculpture with portions six to eight feet deep. It’s made from marble, aluminum, glass, clay, wood and other materials from all 50 states, according to Griesedieck.

“My chief objective in both the creation of the mural project and in the final piece itself is to inspire people, young people, old people – everybody,” says Griesedieck. She especially likes involving preschool to high school children.

Largest of its kind worldwide

According to the AMP website, the mural is “the largest indoor collaborative artwork in the world.” The site explains that “Through partnerships with schools, other nonprofits and professionals in a wide spectrum of fields – including NASA, Boeing, Habitat for Humanity, and HealthCorps – AMP has engaged more than 15,000 students and adults across the country in the creation of the mural through diverse art projects.” To date, those contributors have come from 17 states. The goal is to tap the creativity of the remaining 33 states, involving an additional 35,000 people.

Connecticut part of the first collaboration

AMP’s first state project in 2003 was a successful trial of the collaborative process involving 250 children from eight schools in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. Under Griesedieck’s direction, the children fashioned two tons of ceramic clay into tiles to create a 10-foot copper foundry worker and his batch of molten metal.

Experiencing the mural

It’s hard to visualize the mammoth 120-foot long by five-story mural so let’s compare it to something you know. Imagine three average-size coach buses parked front to back in a line. That’s equivalent to the mural’s length. Then imagine each of the three buses stacked four high. That’s equivalent to its height.
Besides the floor, there are two walk-up viewing platforms – one above the other – on the wall opposite the mural. They run the length of the mural, allowing easier viewing. Stanchions affixed to the balconies display QR codes. Scan the codes with your phone or audio player provided by AMP and you’ll hear 13 Mural Stories. Some are narrated by Griesedieck and others by the very people depicted in the mural. They describe the mural segments directly facing you and bring the mural to life.

No wonder AMP has garnered a 4.7 out of 5 rating on Google and a 4.5 of 5 on Facebook. Expect to spend one hour or more exploring.

Limited hours, children welcome

The mural project is still under construction so it’s open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only. See for details. A five-foot-wide by 120-foot-long gallery in the back of the mural will display the artwork of kids who’ve collaborated nationwide. It opens in 2025. Later, a second mill building in the rear is slated to be renovated into a Visitor and Education Center.

Online reviews attest to the mural’s attraction to all age groups, including children. An area with children’s books and tables stocked with paper and markers lets them express their own creativity.

Other activities at AMP

The facility hosts a variety of events, including guest pianists, singer/songwriters, bands, poetry readings, lectures, a monthly Teen Art Studio, Family Fun Days and Saturday Kids’ Workshops. Weeklong summer programs for ages 7 to 17 are held outside while internships and a Worker-in-Training program are designed for high school and college students. For a complete listing of their offerings see

Who is Ellen Griesiedeck

A lifelong painter, Griesedieck envisioned the idea for a mural honoring American workers while creating a commissioned work at Boeing in 1999. She also attributes her interest to having earlier been inspired by seeing the 17 Watts Towers in Los Angeles. Built by one man, an immigrant, as a thank-you to America for accepting him, they also included the collaboration of local children who provided some materials.

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