NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The third annual Windows of Understanding public art project, sponsored by the New Brunswick Community Arts Council, Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and the Highland Park Arts Commission, will soon be spreading messages of compassion and awareness around social justice issues impacting the city and neighbor Highland Park.
Nearly two dozen windows across New Brunswick and Highland Park will be activated as part of this social justice initiative that united local artists, organizations, and businesses.
Organizers have curated this year’s art and supporting events around the selected issues of food insecurity, immigration, LGBTQIA issues, mass incarceration and human trafficking, mental health, and violence.
Installations will be on view along Church, George and French streets in New Brunswick, as well as the Rite Aid Windows on 4th Gallery in Highland Park. Free art workshops, screenings and other events focused on these issues will provide additional opportunities for the community to talk about the topics and build connections with partnering organizations.
The project launches Monday, Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as a way of paying homage to Dr. King’s legacy with a designated “Day of Understanding.” The public is invited to a prix fixe kick-off lunch at Harvest Moon Brewery & Cafe organized by Elijah’s Promise.
The run culminates on Thursday, Feb. 27, with a public closing exhibition reception at Rutgers University’s Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick. All events are free.
This year’s roster of artists is exceptionally diverse and inter-generational, featuring a range from middle school students to seniors. Students at New Brunswick Middle School and High School have selected to delve into the issue of gun violence for their respective installations. Mental health is another issue that has moved to the forefront this season, with artists actively working to combat associated stigmas.
The project pairs artists with local organizations including new partners such as UndocuRutgers, Central Jersey Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, MCFOODS, Sisterwork, Still Waters Anti-Trafficking Program and the Traumatic Loss Coalition. Each pairing collaborates on a piece in response to the central tagline for this project, "We see through hate,” to be displayed in windows for the public to encounter.
A Windows of Understanding Satellite Exhibition opens on Jan. 22 at the American Hungarian Foundation featuring more than 20 artists from across the state that further brings the project’s central themes to life. The show is free and open to the public by appointment Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Visits may be scheduled by phone at 732-846-5777.
“We are proud of our students and alumni artists who have stepped out of their studios to forge new relationships in the community and engage with social issues in such a direct way,” says Gerry Beegan, Interim Dean of Mason Gross School of the Arts. “Mason Gross is situated in the heart of New Brunswick’s arts district and this collaboration has helped expand the arts reach well beyond our own galleries and spaces.”
“Windows of Understanding continues to provoke thought and raise awareness of current societal concerns,” says New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill. “When national issues are addressed by local artists, the impact is felt on a more personal and intimate level. I thank the New Brunswick and Highland Park establishments who have graciously offered their window space for this program, and I encourage others to get involved and help this important initiative grow.”
“Highland Park has an active, thriving arts community and public art, which can be viewed and appreciated by all residents, is a staple of our art scene,” said Gayle Brill Mittler, Mayor of Highland Park. “The annual Windows of Understanding public art project is a wonderful collaboration between Highland Park, New Brunswick and the Mason Gross School of the Arts. And it is a much-celebrated fixture on the Borough’s annual calendar. We value this initiative so much because it blends social justice concerns with creative artistic expression, prompting conversations among residents and visitors and illustrating some of the most noble functions of public art.”
A wide range of free events for all ages will complement the public art in both New Brunswick and Highland Park throughout the run, which is slated through Saturday, February 29.
Support for Windows of Understanding 2020 has been provided by Middlesex County, Rutgers Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement, Johnson & Johnson, the New Brunswick Cultural Center, Highland Park Arts Commission, and Investors Bank. Special thanks to the American Hungarian Foundation, New Brunswick Development Corporation, New Brunswick City Center, Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Zimmerli Art Museum, and Rutgers Division of Student Affairs– New Brunswick, and to all of our programming partners for their support of this project.
For more information on Windows of Understanding, including a complete list of featured organizations, participating storefronts, and a full calendar of free events, please visit www.windowsofunderstanding.org. On Instagram at @windowsofunderstanding, #weseethroughhate.