TIME for children | The art of work

TIME for children |  The art of work

There is a mural in Winsted, Connecticut, five stories high. It is 120 feet long. Artist Ellen Griesedieck made it. She received help from thousands of students from all over the country. The huge artwork took more than 20 years to create. It is now on display to the public.

ON DISPLAY Griesedieck’s mural was unveiled in June 2022 in a former windmill in Winsted, Connecticut.



Griesdieck calls the work the American Mural Project (AMP). That is also the name of the arts center where it is displayed. The mural celebrates American workers. Steelworkers, heart surgeons, athletes and a teacher are pictured, among others. “There really is someone behind every part of this,” Griesdieck told TIME for Kids.

PERSISTENCE COUNTS Griesedieck has been working on the American Mural Project for over 20 years.


To create the mural, Griesdieck met workers all over the United States. She took pictures of them at work. Then she painted them. There’s Pamela. She works in an aircraft factory in Everett, Washington. There’s Nina, a farmer. And Edwin. He is a police officer from New York City. “The portrait



a photo that focuses on someone’s face

The teacher posed for a school portrait.

his is 18 feet high,” says Griesdieck. “But his story is much bigger than that.” Griesedieck likes to get to know the people she paints. This makes her portraits feel personal.

ARTIST AT WORK Ellen Griesedieck paints a picture of Edwin Raymond, a police officer.


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ON THE JOB Firefighter Melissa Bennett, from New York City, is featured in the mural.


A team effort

Student participation is an important part of Griesdieck’s art project. To date, AMP has worked with 15,000 students in 17 states. In West Virginia, fifth-graders from Ceredo Elementary School worked with a glassblower. They made a 42-foot image of water on which a fishing boat floats. In New Mexico, children made ceramic tiles. They make up the shirt of a mechanic named Stitch.

Kathy Reddy teaches art in Fairfield, Connecticut. She and her students have been involved with AMP for over a decade. Reddy’s first and second graders created life-size self-portraits that show what they want to be when they grow up. These were exhibited at the school. Older children have made a quilt. It shows the work of their grandparents. It is shown at AMP. “Each of the projects we did was a lesson that kids have a voice,” Reddy says, “and that they can express themselves in an artistic way.”

HANDS-ON Over the years, AMP has worked with thousands of students, including in 2009.


get creative

The AMP building is a former mill. Inside, pieces are still being added to the mural. “We’re a work in progress,” says Michelle Begley. She is the director of education programs. “We expect that we will never really be ready.”

Students going to view the mural can take art classes at AMP, which also runs programs in schools. “We really focus on hands-on, open creativity,” Begley says.

For Griesedieck, it’s all about AMP collaboration



to collaborate

Lucy performed in collaboration with other musicians.

. “I tell kids, ‘When you come here, we’ll work together on something bigger than us,'” she says. “The only way you can do something like that is if you work with other people.”

Sticking it together


It takes teamwork to install a giant piece of art. These workers use a mechanical elevator. They add a large-scale portrait of New York firefighter Melissa Bennett to Griesedieck’s mural.

The portrait of Bennett is just one of many. For example, “We have 116 pieces of marble that look like a jigsaw puzzle of the Statue of Liberty,” says Griesdieck. Adding those heavy pieces to the mural took over a month.


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