WINSTED, Conn. (WTNH) – “This is loosely based on Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles painting – there’s a rhythm to it,” veteran artist and photographer Ellen Griesedieck said as she walked past a huge body of work.
Like a symphony, this massive mural is nuanced, complex and deeply personal.
“It’s supposed to look like molten steel,” she says, showing a bright yellow and orange wave.
It’s a 120-foot-long, five-story painted narrative, 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’s been 22 years since this idea came up,” she said. “This is the largest three-dimensional collaborative interior project 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 paint them, I say, ‘Edwin is a great guy, he’s heroic, he’s also sweet,'” she said, showing off her portrayal of a policeman. “I have to paint this.”
She spent quality time with everyone from steel workers to farmers.
“When you get close to it, it’s a whole world,” she said, pointing to the farmland.
She also rubbed shoulders with school children – about 15,000 in the United States – working their designs on the mural.
“You can see there’s kelp here that the kids pulled off the beach,” Griesedieck said, pointing to a section that represents Maine.
“It’s amazing, really, really amazing,” said Taylor Healy, now 29.
She worked on the Maine project when she was 14 and learned a lot about the communities, which was new to her.
“Building my confidence at that young age to really feel like I was contributing to the artwork that I was putting on to be part of something so big,” she said.
Believe it or now, the mural isn’t finished. Each space will continue to be filled with projects from the schoolchildren.
“Even though it’s a tribute to working people, it’s really about what people can do together that they couldn’t do alone,” the artist said.
While the state contributed funds to make the mural a reality, Griesedieck is now seeking donations to fill this former mill with art workshops and more.
“What we need to see here is this place full of children,” she said. “We need every school, in Connecticut and Massachusetts, to come on the field trip.”
Parts 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.
“Yeah, it’s very satisfying,” Griesedieck said. “It’s really exciting.”
This incredible work of art in Winsted opens to the public on June 18.
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