New Brunswick and Highland Park Combat Hate Through Public Art Display

New Brunswick and Highland Park Combat Hate Through Public Art Display

How can we see through hate? It’s a timely question for a divided country and for Rutgers University-New Brunswick as #RUDreamWeek begins today in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy – and as Rutgers marks the centennial of Paul Robeson’s graduation in 1919 with a yearlong celebration honoring his achievements as a scholar, athlete, actor, singer and global activist.

Students Nahla Mohamed, Iqra Ahmed and Sarah Walley share "We the People," black-and-white portraits of freshman congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar and Women’s March cofounder Linda Sarsour, on view at RoosterSpin in New Brunswick.


The university’s Mason Gross School of the Arts has joined forces with the New Brunswick Community Arts Council and Highland Park Arts Commission  to provide an answer through “Windows of Understanding,” a series of displays by more than 30 artists, including Mason Gross students, who worked with local nonprofits to install artworks at storefronts and windows along the New Brunswick and Highland Park downtowns.

The works include “We the People” by Nahla Mohamed, Iqra Ahmed and Sarah Walley, with black-and-white portraits of freshman congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar and Women’s March co-founder Linda Sarsour, on view at RoosterSpin in New Brunswick; and “A Monument for Remembrance,” a cloud-like installation of fabric, art and text by Mason Gross part-time lecturer and MFA candidate Masha Biglow, on view at New Brunswick’s American Hungarian Foundation.

Cassandra Oliveras-Moreno, the Mason Gross School’s communications and collaboration administrator, cofounded Windows of Understanding with fellow Rutgers alums Tracey O’Reggio Clark, the interim executive director at New Brunswick Cultural Center, and Jennifer Sevilla, a counselor and social worker, in response to the August 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I was feeling extremely helpless and frustrated because the headlines oi the news did not match what we saw in the local community here in Highland Park and New Brunswick. We wanted to create, quite literally, a window of understanding to show the community that good exists and that there is a way to cut through the hate,” Oliveras-Moreno said.

“A Monument for Remembrance,” by Mason Gross part-time lecturer and MFA candidate Masha Biglow, on view at New Brunswick’s American Hungarian Foundation.


The artworks will remain on display through Feb. 28. During that time, three “Tables of Understanding” events in Highland Park and New Brunswick will connect community members with the artists with the sharing of food, followed by walking tours of the artworks.

Additional programs include film screenings, poetry readings and a Feb. 6 workshop called “Honoring Our Differences in a Diverse and Changing World’’ sponsored by AARP and led by internationally renowned diversity trainer Lee Moon Wah. The three-hour program will engage participants in a dialogue about ageism, racism and issues affecting the LGBTQ community.

“Windows of Understanding” event runs concurrently with Rutgers’ Robeson centennial celebration.

In 2019, Rutgers marks the centennial of Paul Robeson’s graduation from Rutgers College in 1919. In recognition, our community honors his achievements as a scholar, athlete, actor, singer and global activist in a yearlong celebration featuring lectures, performances, art exhibitions and more. Learn more about the celebration by visiting robeson100.rutgers.edu or by following #Robeson100 on social media.


For media inquiries, contact Cynthia Medina at c.medina@rutgers.edu.