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Public Art Initiative "Windows of Understanding" Returns with a Focus on Community Wellness

NEWS | FEATURES | PREVIEWS | EVENTS


originally published: 01/16/2023

Public Art Initiative "Windows of Understanding" Returns with a Focus on Community Wellness

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The New Brunswick Community Arts Council, Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, Highland Park Arts Commission, and the Metuchen Arts Council announce the sixth annual “Windows of Understanding” season, running January 16 through April 1, 2023, in various communities throughout Middlesex County. The urgency of Community Wellness is the center of this year’s initiative that unites local artists, organizations, and businesses to promote awareness and engagement around social justice issues impacting local communities. All events are free and open to the public.

This season’s theme of “Building a Healthy Community” highlights the following topics: mental health, violence prevention, food equity, and women’s health. Taking place across Middlesex County in New Brunswick, Highland Park, Metuchen, and South Plainfield, Windows of Understanding is a creative, community-building response to the negativity and hate perpetuated in today’s media landscape. Through visual language, artists communicate methods of understanding today’s most pressing social issues in powerful ways that cut across cultural boundaries.  

“Community wellness is front-and-center in the City of New Brunswick,” said New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill. “With New Brunswick being recognized as ‘The Healthcare City,’ we strongly support any effort to make our residents healthier and better-informed about access to healthcare. Windows of Understanding allows us to communicate this critical message.”

Public Art Initiative "Windows of Understanding" Returns with a Focus on Community Wellness

This year, 18 non-profit organizations have paired with an artist-facilitator to illuminate positive strides and resources in local communities. The works will be on display in storefronts and public spaces in participating cities from January 16 through April 1, 2023. 

The project launches on Monday, January 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as a way of paying homage to Dr. King’s legacy. Free virtual and hybrid programming such as panel discussions, educational workshops, community conversations, and wellness sessions around social justice themes will complement the window displays throughout the run. 



 
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“Once again, we welcome the arrival of this important public art project to the Borough of Metuchen,” said Metuchen Mayor Jonathan Busch. “We look forward to celebrating the agencies and the artists working among us to heal and strengthen our community.”

Windows of Understanding has also served to expand collaborative opportunities within the Rutgers University community, as well as offering training and support to all participating artists. Mason Gross School of the Arts Dean Jason Geary describes, “This initiative exemplifies the way in which the arts can be used to engage communities and address issues of broad concern, and it provides an opportunity for Mason Gross students to partner with members of the local community who are doing the everyday work of advancing the cause of social justice."

Public Art Initiative "Windows of Understanding" Returns with a Focus on Community Wellness

For the second year in a row, the Windows of Understanding team is excited to partner with the New Brunswick Public Schools to present a “Day of Understanding” in schools across the district this spring. Day of Understandingbrings this collaborative project directly into the schools, further activating the student art selections displayed in a public storefront. Day of Understanding offers the opportunity for all students to participate in recognizing and discussing the topics being discussed with their teachers and displaying their original artwork in their own classrooms as well as on the walls in the hallways of each school. The day’s program will also offer the students a chance to hear from leaders of the participating Windows of Understanding partner organizations. 

“We are proud of our partnership with Windows of Understanding, which provides our students a framework to develop critical consciousness, understand the world as they see fit, and take action around social injustices,” said Dr. Aubrey A. Johnson, Superintendent of Schools for New Brunswick Public Schools. “The beauty of the concept is that it evokes thoughts, ideas, and meaning to the eye of the beholder. It is awesome to acknowledge how our students see the world in which they live.”

PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS: Brady – United Against Gun Violence; Middlesex County Center for Empowerment; Center for Great Expectations; Claymore Vets; New Brunswick Police Department; Elijah’s Promise; For KEEPS program, Saint Peter’s University Hospital; Highland Park Gives a Hoot; NJ Interfaith Center for Cancer Care; Maternal Wraparound Program, UBHC; Mental Health First Aid, Rutgers University; Metuchen Police Department; Moms Demand Action; New Jersey Black Women Physicians Association; REPLENISH; Rutgers Student Food Pantry; South Plainfield Social Services Department; Traumatic Loss Coalition; and Women Aware.

Public Art Initiative "Windows of Understanding" Returns with a Focus on Community Wellness

Leadership support for Windows of Understanding 2023 has been provided by New Brunswick Cultural Center, inc, and Berkshire Hathaway Home Services NJ Properties. Special thanks to the Arts Institute of Middlesex County and Rutgers University Office of Community Affairs for their exemplary support of this program. 

Businesses hosting art installations for 2023 include: New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC), The Heldrich Hotel & Conference Center, The Yard @ College Ave New Brunswick Parking Authority, Harvest Moon Restaurant, Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce, New Brunswick City Center, Rite Aid of Highland Park, Johnson & Johnson, Barca City, Eveyln’s Restaurant, Taco House, Mr. Subs, and Berkshire Hathaway Home Services NJ Properties.

This year’s Windows of Understanding program partners include Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, First Presbyterian Food Pantry, New Brunswick Free Public Library, Mental Health First Aid, Metuchen Human Relations Commission, REPLENISH, Above Art Studios, Civic League of Greater New Brunswick, Women Aware, Center for Social Justice Education & LGBT Communities at Rutgers University, Rutgers African American Alumni Alliance, and Zimmerli Art Museum. 

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.

Public Art Initiative "Windows of Understanding" Returns with a Focus on Community Wellness

The New Brunswick Community Arts Council is comprised of leaders from across the Arts sector appointed by the Mayor to serve three- year terms, the New Brunswick Community Arts Council exists to promote a diverse range of Art and Culture throughout the city. “Windows of Understanding” complements the council’s existing programs such as the New Brunswick Holiday Market.

Mason Gross School of the Arts is a vibrant community of artists and scholars committed to pursuing excellence, innovation, and inclusivity. Its mission is to create socially relevant art, foster diverse programming and curricula, cultivate community partnerships, and advance the arts through teaching, creative activity, advocacy, and research that contributes to the public good. Comprising 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students across programs in music, theater, dance, filmmaking, and art & design, Mason Gross is housed within Rutgers–New Brunswick, a premier Big Ten research university that serves some 50,000 students and is the flagship campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.



 
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The purpose of the Highland Park Arts Commission is to support and facilitate cultural programs in Highland Park for the benefit of its residents. Such programs may include, but are not limited to, dance, theatre, music, visual arts, poetry, spoken word, culinary arts, fashion design, paper arts, woodworking, and interdisciplinary art forms. Of particular interest to the Arts Commission is both the inclusion of diverse cultural programming and the training of students (of any age) in these art forms.

The Metuchen Arts Council was established in 1967 to advocate and promote culturally enriching programs which foster an appreciation for the arts in the community. The Metuchen Arts Council accomplishes its mission by sponsoring exciting, innovative, and entertaining programs in all arts disciplines; supporting local artists and arts organizations through grants, sponsorships, and networking opportunities; working with others to create a welcoming community to attract artists and audiences of all ages, backgrounds and cultures; and by being an advocate for arts education at all levels. 

IMAGES: From Top To Bottom David Lago - New Brunswick Police Department; Alfred Dudley III - For Keeps Program; Vanessa Nuckols - Center for Empowerment; Danand Peichi Waite - Replenish; Robyn Trimboli Russo - Metuchen Police 







EVENT CALENDAR

ART | COMEDY | DANCE | MUSIC | THEATRE | COMMUNITY

My Fair Lady

Friday, January 27, 2023 @ 8:00pm
State Theatre New Jersey
15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
category: theatre


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Afternoon Recital: Dr. Sungji Kim

Friday, January 27, 2023 @ 2:00pm
Grunin Center
1 College Drive, Toms River, NJ 08754
category: music


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Elvis Birthday Bash

Friday, January 27, 2023 @ 8:00pm
Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC)
30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood, NJ 07631
category: music


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The Language I Speak, Buon Ferragosto & Vagrant

Friday, January 27, 2023 @ 7:00pm
NJ Film Festival
71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
category: film


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Watermelon Sugar: Harry Styles & 1D Dance Party

Friday, January 27, 2023 @ 8:00pm
The Vogel
99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701
category: music


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My Fair Lady

Saturday, January 28, 2023 @ 2:00pm
State Theatre New Jersey
15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
category: theatre


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My Fair Lady

Saturday, January 28, 2023 @ 8:00pm
State Theatre New Jersey
15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
category: theatre


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Broadway Bound by Neil Simon

Saturday, January 28, 2023 @ 2:00pm
Algonquin Arts Theatre
60 Abe Voorhees, Manasquan, NJ 08736
category: theatre


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Broadway Bound by Neil Simon

Saturday, January 28, 2023 @ 8:00pm
Algonquin Arts Theatre
60 Abe Voorhees, Manasquan, NJ 08736
category: theatre


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Lucky Chops

Saturday, January 28, 2023 @ 8:00pm
South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC)
One Sopac Way, South Orange, NJ 07079
category: music


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Dru Hill – 25th Anniversary Tour

Saturday, January 28, 2023 @ 7:00pm
Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC)
30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood, NJ 07631
category: music


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Shorts Program #1 – Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 5PM!

Saturday, January 28, 2023 @ 5:00pm
NJ Film Festival
71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
category: film


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