Wells Fargo commissions murals to connect with local communities
On an exterior wall of a Wells Fargo branch in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, a dramatic 6-by-34-foot mural depicts that city’s historic role in the civil rights movement. Its 18 images include photos of Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy and a painting of the “four little girls” who died in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963.
The mural was unveiled in 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Since the inception of Wells Fargo’s Murals Program in 2002, the San Francisco-based financial institution has commissioned and installed more than 2,300 murals in towns and cities across the U.S. The outsized artworks celebrate the geography, industry and cultural diversity that imbue each community with its unique character and sense of place.
A mural in downtown Denver depicts the history and vibrancy of the city’s Union Square and Auraria neighborhoods; in Kodiak, Alaska, the area’s Russian, Filipino and Alutiiq communities are highlighted. And in Clive, Iowa (pop. 18,600), photographs, documents and maps dating back to before World War I recreate the city’s coal mining past, its railroad depot, a baseball team and a grade-school classroom.
Each mural is the product of meticulous archival research and community outreach, according to Beth Currie, who heads the company’s murals program. “The idea is to interweave historical images into a graphically-designed photo collage—a tapestry of local memories, souvenirs and memoirs that create a sense of wonder, curiosity and identity,” she says. Working with local historical societies, museums and libraries, the bank gathers documents, maps, ephemera and images of founders, landmarks, downtown scenes, agriculture, industry and commerce.
The unveiling of a mural is typically a headline event in the community, drawing crowds and local luminaries. During a pause in his welcoming remarks in Florence, South Carolina, Jamestown Foundation director Terry James glanced behind him at the newly installed mural, which celebrated local African-American history and culture, and spotted a familiar figure in it—a woman in a bright yellow dress. “My God—that’s my Aunt Mary Esther,” he said. “She named me!”
At Carpenter Group, our experience creating branding and marketing programs for financial clients has taught us that a bank’s success is inextricably linked to the health of the communities where it operates. Commitment to the common good—through philanthropy, volunteerism, inclusiveness and corporate citizenship—is essential. Wells Fargo’s Murals Program offers a uniquely visible—and visual—expression of that commitment.
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About Carpenter Group
Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.
Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.