There’s a mural in Winsted, Connecticut, that’s five stories high and 120 feet long. That’s longer than a blue whale! Artist Ellen Griesedieck created the mural. She had help from thousands of students all over the country. It took more than 20 years to complete the massive artwork. Now it’s on display for the public.
Griesedieck calls her work the American Mural Project. It celebrates American workers. Steelworkers and heart surgeons are pictured. So are farmers and a teacher. “There’s somebody real behind every piece of this,” she told TIME for Kids
Griesedieck met workers in small towns and cities all over the United States. She took photos of them on the job. Then she painted them. There’s Melissa. She’s a firefighter in New York City. And Edwin. He’s a New York City police officer. “The portrait of him is 18 feet high,” Griesedieck says. “But his story is way bigger than that.” Griesedieck likes to get to know the people she paints. This makes her portraits feel more personal.
A Team Effort
Student artwork is also part of the mural. Kids in Pennsylvania made self-portraits. In New Mexico, kids made ceramic tiles. The tiles were pieced together. They form the red and white plaid shirt of a mechanic named Stitch.
The mural is displayed inside a former factory. Parts are still being added. The project is all about collaboration . It’s about “making something bigger than you could do on your own,” Griesedieck says.
Piecing it Together
It takes teamwork to install a giant piece of art. These workers are using a mechanical lift. They’re adding a portrait of Melissa Bennett to the mural. It’s just one part out of many. “We’ve got 116 pieces of marble that look like a jigsaw puzzle of the Statue of Liberty,” Griesedieck says. Adding those heavy pieces took more than a month.