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End of an Era
Past Identity / Future Vision

Concept

An exhibit and art project commemorating the demise of the last smokestack in a once rich and powerful New England town.
…an important archive that documents and preserves the lost America of our industrial age.
Maurice Sendak

Winner of a CT Main Street Award

Large scale photography of the smokestack, the former thread mills and Willimantic today were combined with essays by the Director of the Mill Museum and the artist Maurice Sendak. This created a space where people could stop and consider, allowing the opportunity to see themselves from a fresh perspective.

The last smokestack and its demolition

Willimantic and its downtown

Stacks Image 414
This exhibition was created to simultaneously mourn the loss of the last American Thread Mills smokestack as an important and iconic monument to the area's former place on the world stage, and as a challenge to confront ourselves in the present, seeing that same greatness within ourselves.

By integrating elements of time and space in the exhibition with personal interaction and, through
The Portrait Project, the engagement of individuals in the community one on one, people were able to experience the power of art and image in a new and rewarding way.

The exhibition
publicity materials were designed by Eastern CT State University design students, and was widely covered by local and state press.
Maurice Sendak at work
Essays
Quotes
The photography was supported with an essay by the artist Maurice Sendak, an essay by the photographer and an essay and slide presentation by Dr. Jamie Eves. This writing helped create a space where people could stop and consider, allowing the opportunity to see themselves from a fresh perspective.

Large scale postcards

Stone mason interview

Self running slide show

Mills postcard
By integrating large scale reproductions of original blueprints and postcards of the smokestack and the mills, along with related quotes, a historical and philosophical context was created, helping connect and inspire the viewer.
The Portrait Project
Free portraits for all!
Set in the "Future Vision" area of the exhibition, free portraits were offered to all who came through The Portrait Project, creating direct contact between artist and viewer, and encouraging dialog about the area's history and our place in its future.
By integrating elements of time and space in the exhibition with personal interaction and, through
The Portrait Project, the engagement of individuals in the community one on one, people were able to experience the myth-making power of art and image in a new and positive way.

Radio

Newspaper

Web

TV

TV Interview
The exhibition was covered by local and state press, including:

A featured interview on Channel 3's "Better Connecticut" by Scot Haney
A front page article in Willimantic's Chronicle newspaper
A featured story in the lifestyle section of The Norwich Bulletin
Listings in web sites as diverse as Mystic County Tourism and The Chicago Tribune.
Opening night
Partnerships
Understanding
Cooperation
Opening night was attended by a crowd of about 240 people from all walks of life.
Synergy was a word often used by a man I admire, Buckminster Fuller. What happened here was synergy in its truest sense. Relationships and partnerships promising future creative possibilities were made with businesses, organizations and individuals. The exhibition became more than the sum of its parts due to the generosity and engagement of the people involved.

Historic Mill Bldg.

Willimantic River

Sense of scale

The Exhibition
Housed on the ground floor of American Thread Mills Building No. 1, the Willimantic river flowed directly outside the longest wall with large, glass block windows pouring in afternoon sunlight. The building is currently ArtSpace Windham, with apartments on the upper floors.
futureHistory
The Windham Textile and History Museum, Eastern Connecticut State University, City Hall, the Mill Complex, and Horizons all now have photography in their collections from this exhibit, as well as numerous individuals - as far away as Arizona.