NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - It took after-school sessions every week for three months. That is how long 40 city middle school students worked to complete a painting titled "America Is For Everyone," which is now on display in a store front at 84 Albany St.

That work, from the New Brunswick Middle School Art Club, is one of the dozens on display for the second annual Windows of Understanding program showing works of art in 40 storefronts in New Brunswick and Highland Park this month.

"It's an opportunity to work with the community," said Danielle Fleming, a teacher at the middle school and the advisor for the art club.

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Fleming spoke about the program during the opening reception Tuesday for the artists at the Rutgers University Zimmerli Art Museum.

"The arts build bridges. We've never been in need of bridges more than today," George Stauffer, dean of the university's Mason Gross School of the Arts, said to the audition of artists at the reception. He said over half of the working artists who provided pieces for the show are associated with Mason Gross School.

New Brunswick Councilwoman Rebecca Escobar, speaking during the ceremony, said the artists addressed social, racial and community issues.

"Art is a catalyst for change," Escobar said.

The program began Monday and will run through Feb. 28, with a closing reception and exhibition at the American Hungarian Foundation, 300 Somerset St., from 4 to 6 p.m.

Leadership support for the project is provided by a Community-University Research Partnership Grant for New Brunswick awarded by the Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation at Rutgers University. Additional support has been provided by AARP, Johnson & Johnson and the New Brunswick Cultural Center.

Middlesex County, New Brunswick Development Corporation, New Brunswick Cultural Center, New Brunswick City Center, Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the New Brunswick Parking Authority, Stir-Fry Productions, Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers Division of Student Affairs New Brunswick and The Rutgers Office of Community Affairs also supported the project.

A complete list of events for the program is available at the Windows of Understanding website.