We are excited to announce a new mural project at the IMC: a mural that will brighten the south ramp entry leading to our main level with a prairie landscape and portraits of several beloved local activists: Jenny Barrett and Dave Monk. The lead artist will be Maya Bauer with supporting artists to include two high school employees supported by funds from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. They will paint the mural in July of 2024 in the south ramp entrance of the IMC. 


Mural Quick Facts

  • The ramp helps bring attention and beauty to our ramp entrance. This is important to us because we want this entrance to feel like the main entrance, a universally accessible entryway to our community center 
  • We received a grant to hire two high school employees - one who will help pain the mural and another who will help document the process. Their positions are supported with a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency
  • More portraits may be added in the future
  • Stay tuned for a grand opening of the mural in the fall of 2024

Mural Led by Artist Maya Bauer

Lead artists Maya Bauer proposed the mural in 2023 to honor beloved local activists Jenny Barrett and Dave Monk. Maya was born on the rural prairie in Central Illinois and grew up in Urbana. She writes, “Artistic storytelling offers the opportunity to engage with and build our own shared history. David Monk and Jenny Barrett were remarkable activists who we recently lost, helping to shape our past and our future, whose stories can leverage more activist energy, more change making, and more investment in our communal thriving.”

Learn more about Maya Bauer and her art at www.mayaaeolian.com


Activists to be Featured

Jenny Barrett (1949 - 2021) - Labor Organizer, Painter, Dancer, Computer Programmer

Jenny was born in Chicago shortly after her parents immigrated from China. She excelled academically, eventually graduating with honors from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She met her husband, Jim Barrett, and they had one son Xian (Sean). Jenny earned an MA in Computer Science at the University of Illinois in 1989 and worked as a programmer on the Plato system and for the Department of Psychology. She was a lifelong labor organizer and led the Academic Professionals Association, serving as its chair for many years. After retirement, Jenny dedicated herself to her passions for art and literature, winning awards for her watercolors, dancing regularly with the Urbana Country Dancers, and exploring Chicago's vibrant neighborhoods and cultural events. Jenny's legacy of compassion and activism lives on through her family, friends, and community.

Read more about Jenny in the IMC’s own publication, the Public i

Read her obituary here


Dave Monk (1931 - 2022) - Prairie Artist, Environmental Educator, Advocate for Prairies, Radio Host

David Monk would tell anyone he met about the beauty and importance of our central Illinois prairies. Dave was born and raised in Australia and arrived in central Illinois for graduate school in 1961. He noticed that few people understood prairies and began a lifelong project to change that.  

After earning his master’s degree in education, Dave moved his educational work off-campus under the name Educational Resources in Environmental Science (ERES). His teaching integrated arts, prairie tours, and storytelling. He established and taught “Reading the Landscape” at Parkland College and served for several summers as a visiting lecturer at the Chicago Art Institute, where he taught “Artist in the Landscape.

Advocating for inter-agency cooperation, Monk played crucial roles in preserving natural spaces like Busey Woods and developing initiatives like the Kickapoo Rail Trail. In 1987, he founded Heartland Pathways, preserving 33 miles of retired railroad line to conserve prairie habitats.

Dave also hosted "The Prairie Monk" on WEFT, a radio program that covered the environment, arts and more. Until his final days, Monk tirelessly fought to save the last remnants of original prairie in central Illinois. He demystified the prairie for many of us and his vision lives on through us.

Read more about Dave in the IMC’s own publication, the Public i