American Mural Project helps inspire community
WINSTED, Conn. (AP) — Even Amy Wynn, the American Mural Project’s first executive director, struggles a bit in explaining what the project is.
But give her a couple of minutes and she is able to slowly put words together that at least provide a basic understanding of its intent.
“I think of it as two things: an inspiration and a catalyst,” she said last week from her office in an old house on Whiting Street. “It’s a celebration of workers and the art of work. The art of work is feeling good about what you did, appreciating it . and making aware of everyone’s value in making the world around us.
“And it’s a catalyst because you want to inspire people . to honor their own work and other people’s work.”
Launched in 2002 by artist Ellen Griesedieck, the American Mural Project is creating the largest indoor collaborative artwork in the world - a mural 120 feet long, 48 feet high, and up to 10 feet deep, according to AMP’s website. The project is a tribute to the nation’s workers and highlights what has defined the country over the last century.
More than 10,000 children and adults have helped create pieces of the mural, and an additional 30,000 people from all 50 states are expected to help finish the project, the website states. A multi-subject curriculum based on the mural is now in pilot programs in local schools; an online version is in development, according to the website.
Two former mill buildings on Whiting Street will house the mural and an adjacent visitors center, which will become a destination for school and teacher programs, after-school programming, summer enrichment activities, and lectures and workshops, as well as the on-site portion of AMP’s curriculum, the website states. The first mill building is being renovated and is projected to open next year.
Wynn, the former executive director at Northwest Connecticut Arts Council for the last 15 years, started her new job on Sept. 4. She said it is going well so far.
“It’s an incredible team, one that is really used to collaborating,” she said. “That means they’re really used to listening to one another, they’re used to bouncing things back and forth. People don’t always have to agree and then when you work it out, you end up with something that everyone’s comfortable with.”
She said even Griesedieck is “always listening and open to new ideas.”
Wynn, 58, said she was recruited for the job. She said the project leaders were looking for administrative leadership.
“They’re going from realizing a vision to more of an organization,” she said. “And in order to share that vision with the public, there are a lot of basics that I’m working on putting in place right now.”
She added that the organization needs to establish a solid foundation.
“Ellen has been leaned on very heavily as an artist and a visionary, and now my job is to balance it out so that the foundation exists long after any of us are here on Earth,” Wynn said. “My second challenge is to help this organization and develop the way it’s going to have the impact its mission prescribes. A lot of people don’t get it. My job is to help people get it and make getting it have impact.”
Wynn said she expects Griesedieck to start planning the installation of the massive three-dimensional mural toward the end of the year. There are some very heavy pieces that “don’t connect in a typical way,” rather they will overlap and have depth, she said. Visitors will be able to walk through it.
“So installing this very complex set of pieces and mosaics is going to be a very exciting challenge I think for Ellen, and I’m really excited that she’s going to have a chance finally to do this,” Wynn said.
At some point, her office will move into the adjacent former hosiery factory that is undergoing the finishing touches of renovation, and the house she is in will be torn down for additional parking spaces and possibly a small outdoor amphitheater.
“I’m very excited about being here,” she said. “It’s a very fresh feeling for me.”
Information from: Republican-American, http://www.rep-am.com