New Brunswick, Highland Park Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. With Public Art Display

With their second annual joint Windows of Understanding public art display, New Brunswick and Highland Park aim to promote social justice. — January 21, 2019

By Bob Makin, Bridgewater Courier News

The second annual Widows of Understanding public art display that aims to promote unity in diversity throughout New Brunswick and Highland Park launched on Monday with a luncheon at Harvest Moon in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, as well as his legacy and dream.

Luncheon guests included some of the representatives of more than a three dozen cultural and community organizations in both municipalities who partnered with artists on the art display, which has doubled in size to more than 60 new works. Spearheaded by Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, New Brunswick Community Arts Council and Highland Park Arts Commission, partners also include the New Brunswick Area Branch of the NAACP.

"NBABNAACP strives to bring the diverse members of our community together in a spirit of unity and tolerance for our differences and working with the participants in this year's project give us the opportunity to strengthen the synergy among us," Branch President Bruce Morgan said. "One of the world's most basic ways of communicating is through art. Art crosses race, ethnicity, gender and national origin. It can bridge the differences of age, sexual identity and teach compassion and empathy for our neighbors near and far. It's easy to see how art can convey a message of love, tolerance and respect for our planet and neighbors."

Paying homage to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the perfect way to offer service to the community to begin the journey to freedom, justice and equality for all, he added.

"Let us use this kick-off as the day we take Dr. King's words and commit ourselves to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man and lead our communities into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice," Morgan said.

Since partnering together last year, several organizations and artists have remained in touch with each other, said Windows of Understanding co-founder Cassandra Oliveras Moreno, administrator of communications and collaboration in Mason Gross' Department of Art & Design.

The expanding and diverse partnership includes local, county and statewide organizations:

Their collaborations with artists can be seen in storefronts throughout and near George and French streets in New Brunswick and Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, as well as in New Brunswick's Museum of the American Hungarian Foundation, where Windows of Understanding works from last year also are on display.

"While the project was inspired last year by the events in Charlottesville, issues remain top of mind today," Moreno said. "Things such as immigrant rights, women's rights, criminal justice issues, freedom of speech remain at the fore. Our best hope is that Windows of Understanding, both in our programs and in the actual art itself, can spark conversation and continued engagement around these key issues."

Things to do

In addition to the kick-off luncheon, additional Tables of Understanding dining also aim to foster communication, understanding and collaboration. They will take place in Highland Park from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Jan. 27 at Ruthie's Restaurant, 70 Raritan Ave.; noon to 2 p.m. Feb. 10, The Blue Horse Restaurant, 247 Raritan Ave., and 3 to 5 p.m. Feb. 24, Sushiana, 17 N. 4th St. The first two will be followed by a two-hour guided art walk of Highland Park's Windows of Understanding displays. Partial proceeds from all three Tables of Understanding events will go to Highland Park Food Pantry.

Windows of Understanding also features Rutgers' "MLK Dream Week" discussions at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 with Rutgers professors at Livingston Student Center, 4 Joyce Kilmer Ave., Piscataway; 7:30 p.m. 29 with Black Lives Matters' Opal Tometi at Busch Student Center Multipurpose Room, 604 Bartholomew Road, also Piscataway; 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 30 with Rutgers' third annual MLK Oratorical Competition, also in the Busch Student Center, and 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Jan. 31 for an Empower Workshop with Ananya Dance Theater at Loree Gym, 70 Lipman Drive, New Brunswick.

Other Windows of Understanding events include:

For more information, visit

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