Windows of Understanding public art project launches on MLK Day

The New Brunswick Community Arts Council, Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and the Highland Park Arts Commission are proud to announce “Windows of Understanding,” a public art installation project that unites local artists, organizations and businesses to promote compassion and awareness around social justice issues in our community.

Starting January 15, designated “A Day of Understanding,” approximately two dozen storefront windows throughout New Brunswick and Highland Park will showcase works of art that address a number of current issues, including cultural identity, faith-based initiatives, environmental conservation, homelessness, food insecurity and youth mentoring. 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 project launches on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a way of paying homage to Dr. King’s legacy.

The organizing partners paired local artists with community groups and institutions such as the New Brunswick Free Public Library, New Brunswick Tomorrow, Muslim Feminists for the Arts, PRAB, Coming Home Middlesex, Elijah’s Promise, coLAB Arts and the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership. A diverse range of Cultural Centers at Rutgers University are also represented in solidarity.

Each team commissioned a piece around a theme important to the agency, to be displayed in storefront windows for the public to enjoy.

The Art Club at New Brunswick Middle School created a piece that promotes the use of artistic expression to encourage tolerance, understanding and peace. Their artwork will be on display for the month at Costa Chica Restaurant on Handy Street.

“The students found a profound connection to the theme. They love that they are able to show their awareness and feelings through art and to share it with their community,” said Danielle Fleming, Visual Arts Educator at New Brunswick Middle School.

For the Highland Park component of the exhibit, organizations like the Central Jersey Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, Raices Cultural Center and the Highland Park Food Pantry worked with artists to commission pieces to display in the borough. In conjunction with the project, the Commission is launching 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.

The project’s January 15 kickoff features an art crawl, with guided walking tours of the installations at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. departing from Kilmer Square and Kim’s Bike Shop, respectively. Special communal dining options at local restaurants, poetry readings, performances and screenings will complement the exhibit throughout the run, which is slated through February 15.

Windows of Understanding utilizes the ingenuity of talented local artists to further promote the values of our dedicated community organizations,” said Mayor Jim Cahill. “The arts serve as the heart and soul of our community and this innovative project will continue to promote vibrancy, creative thought and community building in our City.”

Enrique Figueredo, a graduate student in Visual Arts at Mason Gross School of the Arts, is working with Elijah’s Promise, a New Brunswick-based anti-hunger organization and culinary school, to create artwork guided by the organization’s idea that “Food is Love,” to be displayed at Harvest Moon Brewery and Café on George Street.

“For this project, I want to send a clear message, while at the same time producing a good work of art that highlights and tells the story of an exceptional organization that cares for the entire community,” he said.

“Mason Gross is proud to support the Windows of Understanding project through the work of our visual arts students, alumni, and staff facilitators,” said George B. Stauffer, dean of the Mason Gross School of the Arts. “The school has enhanced the creative community in New Brunswick for more than four decades, and it is a natural fit to participate in this important initiative to address and interpret the social justice issues of our communities through art.”

For more information on Windows of Understanding, including a complete list of featured organizations, schedule of events and participating storefronts, please visit www.windowsofunderstanding.org.

Windows of Understanding logo (top) designed by Mason Gross visual arts BFA student Alicia Stolarz.

Second image: Image 1 of 3 in the series Ornamental Fortitude” on view at the New Street Parking Deck. Image courtesy of Muslim Feminists for the Arts, 2017.

Third image: Drawing by Arianna Meneses of the New Brunswick Middle School Art Club, on view at Costa Chica Restaurant. Image courtesy of New Brunswick Middle School, 2017.

Bottom: Portrait 1 of 7 from the Installation “The Sun Will Shine Brighter Tomorrow” by Mahsa Biglow, on view at Las Cazuelas Restaurant. Image courtesy of the artist, 2017.

Information accurate as of winter 2018.