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Metuchen joins ‘Windows of Understanding’ art project, promoting awareness of social justice issues

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The Metuchen Arts Council is joining the New Brunswick Community Arts Council, the Mason Gross School of the Arts and the Highland Park Arts Council in the fourth annual  Windows of Understanding public art project.

The Windows of Understanding Project is an initiative that unites local artists, organizations and businesses to promote compassion and awareness around social justice issues impacting local communities. The belief of the project’s creators is that through visual language, artists can communicate methods of understanding in powerful ways that cut across cultural boundaries, according to information provided by the Metuchen Arts Council.

In the face of the duel pandemic of COVID-19 and racial injustice, the scope of the Windows of Understanding Art Project has widened its lens to incorporate the impact of these challenging circumstances, according to the statement. Themes for the 2021 project include food insecurity, public health, trauma and recovery, climate change, and youth engagement.

For the Metuchen branch of the project, artists will be working with The First Presbyterian Food Pantry (food insecurity), the Metuchen First Aid Squad (public health), Women Aware (trauma and recovery), the Edison Greenways Group (climate change) and Kiddie Keep Well Camp (youth engagement).

The artwork will be exhibited at the Metuchen Public Library Art Gallery. A virtual exhibit will also be mounted. 

More than 20 non-profit and social service organizations whose missions reflect these themes will be paired with artist facilitators to create original works of art.

The project launches on Jan. 18, which is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, as a way of paying homage to Dr. King’s legacy with a designated “Day of Understanding.” 

The works will be on display in storefronts and public spaces throughout New Brunswick, Highland Park and Metuchen through Feb. 28.

In addition, programming in New Brunswick and Highland Park will include virtual poetry readings, performances, educational workshops and panel discussions around social justice themes that will complement the visual displays throughout the run in New Brunswick, Highland Park and Metuchen.   

In other programming, the Metuchen Human Relations Commission will sponsor virtual “Community Conversations” with the agency directors and the artists to highlight the good work each agency does in the community.

“In Metuchen, we know from experience that art, in all its forms, has the power to open hearts and minds,” Metuchen Mayor Jonathan Busch said in the statement. “We welcome the opportunity, especially in these times, to join with our neighbors in New Brunswick and Highland Park to call attention to the unsung heroes in our communities who strive for social balance through education, public service and artistic expression.”

Support for Windows of Understanding 2021 has been provided by Middlesex County; the New Brunswick Cultural Center; Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts; Rutgers University Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement; Highland Park Arts Commission; Metuchen Arts Council; and New Brunswick Performing Arts Center.

For more information on Windows of Understanding, including a complete list of featured organizations, participating storefronts, and a full calendar of free events, visit www.windowsofunderstanding.org. Or, visit Instagram at @windowsofunderstanding, #weseethroughhate.

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