116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — “We are C.R.” was a rallying cry among Cedar Rapids residents last summer during protests against racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
Now, Cedar Rapids artist Thomas Clark has brought the spirit of this chant to life with a new mural downtown celebrating the city’s diversity.
The mural, located on the side of the AdCraft print shop building, 309 Fifth Ave. SE, places the familiar downtown Cedar Rapids skyline around the Tree of Five Seasons sculpture and nearby buildings in the middle of two hands — one Black, one white — that form a heart shape. Red roses bloom beside the two hands, and a painted purple banner across the top reads “We Are CR.”
To Clark, the mural represents growth, and everybody coming together and blossoming.
“It's just a mirror of the community and everybody is diverse, evidently,” Clark said. “It's just pretty much what C.R. represents. We have people here from all walks of life that all contribute and matter in their community.”
Clark painted the mural with Chad Dozeinear, and worked with Cedar Rapids City Council member Ashley Vanorny and Jesse Thoeming of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance to get the green light on the project and finalize the concept.
After three weeks of work, Clark recently finished the mural, but he said he has already received a lot of positive feedback from the community. People stopped by while painting was underway and have since posted photos with the new mural on social media.
Art is in the eye of the beholder, Clark said, so everyone will look at it differently, but he hopes people view it as a sign that everyone is welcome in Cedar Rapids. It is a sign of prosperity over division after the murder last May of Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer — an incident which prompted protests to call for police reform across the nation.
"A lot of people were kind of awoken to things that they might not have known were going on” regarding the reality of racism in the United States, Clark said, “and some other people already knew what's going on for a while. It's kind of opened a lot of people's eyes and started these conversations to have with people that you might not look like or live next to or just have questions about them and their background, and you can start these conversations.”
Turé Morrow, who formed the nonprofit We Are CR last year, said the message of “We Are CR” last summer started to urge people against tearing up and rioting the city.
To him, this mural means that the message is spreading and people are starting to accept each other in a more unifying sense, regardless of religion, gender or another aspect of their identity.
“Cedar Rapids is a complex and diverse community, and we all represent Cedar Rapids as being a part of this community,” Morrow said.
Comments: (319) 398-8494; email@example.com