In 2009, the Sampson Arts Council in partnership with the City of Clinton, appointed a Public Art Project Committee to study and develop a plan for Sampson County’s first public art project. In 2010, the committee selected artist Heidi Lippman and landscape architect Kofi Boone, to study the community, its history, and its downtown revitalization project in order to present proposals for a public art project that would exemplify the community and its heritage. The team proposed a glass art installation as the centerpiece for a new park in the historic downtown district.
In 2011, Lippman received a commission to create the art piece “Milling Around”. Lippman provided her original artwork images to Mayer of Munich, the world’s premier stained glass and mosaic-art glass fabricator. A silk screen template was created to provide a skeletal structure for the intricate hand painting on glass, which was then fired to 1,100 degrees creating a vibrant, light fast and durable finish. Combinations of transparent and opaque colors were applied to the interior glass surface of the laminated panes to create the final millstone depiction.
For more than 10,000 years, millstones have provided a way to grind grains, nuts, and corn. Prior to 1900, there were at least two hundred water-powered mills in Sampson County. Because of the mills’ importance in creating flour for food, they became essential to the life and growth of a community. In the pre-Revolutionary era, John Sampson, Sampson County’s namesake, owned a gristmill along the Beaver Dam Branch. The mill became a focal point of the community, and a town that would become Clinton began to grow around it. The millstone represents hard work, community, cooperation, and innovation - all qualities exemplified by the people of Clinton and Sampson County.
Funding for the project was provided by the North Carolina Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and private donations.