NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Nearly 40 storefronts in New Brunswick and Highland Park will serve as cultural showcases for the works of artists both local and from across the state, as well as from hands of students from the two municipalities as part of a social justice initiative.

"Window of Understanding," a program from the New Brunswick Community Arts Council, the Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and the Highland Park Arts Commission will open for a second year in an an initiative that unites local artists, organizations and businesses to promote compassion and awareness around issues impacting local communities.

There are nearly twice the number of venues this year than in the inaugural program in 2018.

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On Jan. 21, coinciding with Martin Luther King Jr., Day, the program will kick-off, to honor the civil rights leader's legacy with a designated "Day of Understanding" that will be highlighted with family-friendly guided art crawls

Most installations will be on view along Church, George and French streets in New Brunswick, as well as along Raritan Avenue in Highland Park.

The program culminates on Feb. 28 with a public closing exhibition reception at the American Hungarian Foundation in New Brunswick.

Participating artists from across the state have created works drawing from issues including cultural identity, faith-based initiatives, gender and sexuality, environmental justice, homelessness, food insecurity and youth mentoring.

Organizers paired artists with such local organizations as the Brady Campaign, Muslim Feminists for the Arts, D.I.R.E., Interfaith Rise, The Pride Center of New Jersey, NAACP, New Brunswick Area Branch, New Labor, Women Aware, Elijah’s Promise, the Civic League of Greater New Brunswick and the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership.

“We are pleased to be able to welcome this project back for another exhibition in tandem with our
partners at Mason Gross School of the Arts and the Borough of Highland Park," said New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill.

This year’s exhibition includes an effort to have middle school and high school students New Brunswick and Highland Park voice their expressions through art.

Diverse cultural groups from Rutgers University worked in teams, creating projects around the theme titled "How do you see through hate."

“The Mason Gross School is not a cloistered arts conservatory," said George B. Stauffer, Dean of the Mason Gross School of the Arts. "We're deeply invested in the cultural life of New Brunswick and Highland Park, and the Windows of Understanding project allows our artists to collaborate with the community to address issues of social justice in a creative and compassionate way.”

The Highland Park Arts Commission is providing a Digital Art Walk Tour, which will permit pedestrians in Highland Park, as well as those at home, to read and hear about the art in the windows of local businesses.

"Highland Park, as a culturally, racially and income-diverse community, truly attempts to “see through hate’ at every level of our civic engagement," said borough Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler said. "Public art is critical to enriching the lives of all of our residents."

The project’s Jan. 21 kickoff in New Brunswick features guided walking tours of the installations at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. departing from Kilmer Square and Kim’s Bike Shop, respectively.

During the month-long program that will be “Tables of Understanding” events at local restaurants, screenings, a diversity workshop, and performances will complement the public art in both New Brunswick and Highland Park

More information about the program, including a complete list of featured organizations, participating storefronts, and a schedule of free events, is available at  www.windowsofunderstanding.org. There is also information on Instagram at @windowsofunderstanding, #weseethroughhate.