The Creative Voice: Getting AMPed in Winsted By Amy L.A. Smith

One of the many sections of the mural in the American Mural Project.
One of the many sections of the mural in the American Mural Project.
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Don’t miss this! Register for your tour and get AMPed! American Mural Project (AMP) is history in the making. It is happening right here, right now, in your neighborhood. When you visit AMP during an Open Mill tour you will see creativity in progress. “You are getting to see the mural being created in a process that will never be seen again,” AMP Executive Director Amy Wynn said. “Once it is completely up everyone will see the same thing.” Five stories tall, 120 feet long, AMP is huge and needs to be seen. Not only is this the largest indoor collaborative artwork in the world, but its impact also reaches far past the walls where it is housed in a mill building on Whiting Street in Winsted.
Ellen Griesedieck, Founder and Artistic Director of AMP, is raising the bar and redefining notions of art, murals, and their power to impact our community. While touring AMP during an Open Mill event, I learned about how Ellen was inspired to pursue this project 20 years ago. She felt the need to connect her children to the world at work and labor. Ellen wanted to teach that no matter what job you choose when you do it with passion and integrity and do it well, there is honor in it. As a collaborative piece, she is not doing this alone. With volunteers and participation from more than 15,000 students from 18 states across the country thus far, AMP is an outstanding and enormous creative undertaking!
Murals are known as creations by artists, often with paint, on a permanent surface such as a wall or ceiling. AMP is a three-dimensional mural that continues to expand, pieced together with honeycomb aluminum panels, bolted and fabricated to control depth. In addition to acrylic paint, Ellen has used ceramics, plastics, glass, paper, textiles, steel, and paper mache. These are just some materials that have been used to bring this image forth. The people behind these materials are what truly brings the art to life. In the mural, there are stories of real people, relationships, and experiences. They are teachers, firefighters, journalists, nurses, schoolchildren, surgeons, mechanics, police officers, truckers, volunteers, farmers, welders, and more! They are the people who keep things going and make things possible.
AMP has numerous education programs on and off-site to share. Looking at the bigger picture, we see and feel the vision of providing students an educational experience through art that helps them thrive on their journey, celebrates unique ideas, offers tools needed to truly succeed, and brings appreciation and gratitude for life to the forefront. AMP’s tribute to the American workers and work, and dedication to education programs are making a difference, it is something we can all be grateful for.
Anne Gerard, Member of the AMP Board of Directors, put it best when she said, “It is like the Grand Canyon, you need to see it.” Sunday, February 16 is the next Open Mill Tour. For more information and to register for the next Open Mill Tour go to www.americanmuralproject.org.

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Amy L.A. Smith is an artist, an art advocate, and the founder of Mental Health Connecticut’s state-wide Mending Art program. Additionally, Amy has owned and operated art galleries and shares her experiences and creativity through her work as a curator, juror, consultant, published writer and public speaker on the benefits of art and wellbeing.