In Fall 2020, Rutgers School of Social Work set forth an ambitious strategic plan, Toward a More Just Future, to guide its work over the next five years. The plan envisions a future for our country and our world that is grounded in justice. To that end, the School commits to leading for justice, through a focus on innovation, excellence, collaboration, and community. Deeply grounded in inclusion, intersectionality, diversity, equity and advancement, the plan focuses on core elements of our mission as a leading school of social work.
To share our mission and vision with campus and community members, the School of Social Work commissioned a public art project in collaboration with Mason Gross School of the Arts. The project began last summer when a group of School of Social Work community members, which consisted of faculty and staff at all levels, convened to discuss a vision and plan for the project. Group members included Catie Buttner, Jacquelyn Duron, Sharon Fortin, Kathleen Gilbert, Kerry Hennessey, Arlene Hunter, Mark Lamar, Nicole Oceanak, Lauren Snedeker, and Laurie Zazenski.
Once the group was established, the School worked to find a student artist to execute the project using their own creative lens. Ria Monga, a senior at Mason Gross School of the Arts, was chosen from a pool of candidates to design the project.
"I believe that art is not just a reflection of our community, but a tool to shape it," said Monga, who is earning a BA in Visual Arts and minor in Human Resource Management. "For me, the process of creating the artwork has been an exploration of emotions and pursuit of truth. Cultivating the designs required an understanding and drive to learn more, all in the service of shedding light on important issues and inspiring positive change."
To maximize exposure, the art project was installed on the first-floor windows of the School of Social Work building in New Brunswick, which sits at the intersection of George and Albany Streets. A hub of buzzing activity, the corner symbolizes the literal and figurative intersections of campus and community. "The designs aim to visually embody the mission and goals of the School of Social Work, inspiring action towards a more just and equitable society," said Monga.
Stepping inside the School of Social Work building's first floor welcomes visitors to our student affairs and field education teams – administrators and professionals whose mission is to support the success of our students. "I’m hoping that people seeing the artwork – from the street and from within – receive impressions of community, family, inclusion, diverseness, welcoming, and social justice," said Mark W. Lamar, Associate Professor of Professional Practice and Executive Director of Field Education.
“The Student Affairs staff and faculty are excited about the powerful images and designs displayed on the windows of our offices," said Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Arlene Hunter. "We hope the bright colors and beautiful designs will be enjoyed by all who pass by and also inspire a sense of community and support to students as well as the greater New Brunswick public. The artwork reminds all of us of the School of Social Work values – community, diversity, and social justice."