| by Sierra Abukins

Campus Notes

Latest draft of the mural design

In November 2023, painting was completed for a 14 x 40’ mural on the side of the McCone building at the center of campus.

This project has been in the works since 2021 and is a joint project of the Institute, its Committee on Art in Public Places and the Old Monterey Foundation, a local nonprofit that works to support and enhance the artistic, cultural, and historic environment of downtown Monterey.

More than 50 community volunteers helped paint, including talented youth from North Salinas High School.

Community Input

The Institute’s Committee on Art in Public Places (ICAPP) has shaped the mural based on input from faculty, staff and students. Key themes that the community wanted to be represented included:

  • The Institute’s international and multicultural focus and student body
  • Monterey’s unique coastal and agricultural environment and incredible nature
  • The indigenous people and cultures of this region
  • Highlighting that Monterey is the “Language Capital of the World

Faculty, staff, and students shared that they hoped the mural would reflect:

  • Interconnectedness between human cultures and the environment
  • Connections between the local and the global
  • Mutual support, solidarity
  • The determination of our students and colleagues to make the world a better place
  • Tenacity and resilience
  • Cycles since the Institute is constantly attracting change-makers from around the world and then contributing to a global network of people seeking “advance understanding, promote peace, and drive change in pursuit of a more just world.”
  • Learning and growth - personal and collective
Wall of McCone Building

Advancing Peace through Languages and Diplomacy

The mission of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies is to educate professionals to advance understanding, promote peace, and drive change in pursuit of a more just world. Reflecting that mission and the Institute’s focus on languages, the border of the mural will feature the word peace in dozens of languages. This was based on a list of the languages spoken by our students in the 2023 school year, also reflecting the languages we teach here, and many languages spoken by the diverse people of Monterey, including Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Tagalog, and Rumsen. See the list of words.

The Intertwined History of Nature and People in this Region

The mural is located on the Monterey Path of History and highlights how Institute’s history is intertwined with that of downtown Monterey and the region. It features both a view of the Bay and agricultural fields to highlight the interdependence of people and the land. The current campus is located on the ancestral land of the Rumsien Ohlone and Esselen indigenous people, with traditional basketry and tule boats depicted in the mural, as well as acorns, an important food source.

The Institute was founded in 1955, acquiring and incorporating many existing buildings in downtown Monterey over two decades. Two appear in the mural:

  • The iconic Segal building featured in the Institute’s logo was originally the town library, one of many funded by Carnegie in the early 1900s. 
  • The Lara Soto adobe at the center of campus was built in the 1830s and was occupied for a time by John Steinbeck, who wrote the novella The Pearl while living there.

Learn more about local indigenous nations:

Honoring Passionate Educators

The Institute is known for its incredible faculty who bring a rich diversity of academic and professional experiences and languages and mentor students in close relationship to tackle complex global issues.

Three late faculty members who embodied this spirit are featured in the mural:

The mural was designed by Yermo Aranda, whose murals can be seen at several schools and prisons across the area.

Mural Design

The mural design outline has undergone several reviews and revisions, with the final color design to be finalized in August.

Mural Committee Members

  • Sierra Abukins
  • Jen Dayton-Johnson
  • Kaitlin Emmons
  • Andrew Hernandez

Special thanks to Ellen Martin and Barbara Burke, who both serve on the board of the Old Monterey Foundation.

Middlebury Institute mural committee

For More Information

Contact Sierra Abukins.