Sujal Manohar graduated in May 2020 with a B.S. in neuroscience, B.A. in visual arts, and a minor in Chemistry. An Alice M. Baldwin Scholar, Sujal was involved with many projects during her time at Duke that looked at the intersection of art and science. This included being a gallery guide with the Reflections Alzheimer's Program at the Nasher Museum of Art and creating a collaborative wellness mural at Texas nonprofit clinic PediPlace.
Sujal Manohar will work at Imagine Art, an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit art studio which provides an inclusive studio and art space for individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities. She hopes to better understand the needs of artists with disabilities through a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the organization’s existing initiatives. She also plans to engage the community directly in a collaborative art project. At Duke, Manohar—an Alice M. Baldwin Scholar—was the photography editor for The Chronicle and a neuroscience research assistant in the Pearson Lab. Her original artwork has been displayed at the Rubenstein Arts Center and the Student Wellness Center. Originally from Dallas, she graduated with a BS in neuroscience and a BA in visual arts.
Manohar noted that though her dual degrees in science and art may seem divergent, she does not see them that way.
“My work with people impacted by illness and disability has shown me how the arts can create unique avenues for communication and collaboration with these groups,” Manohar said. “Art can empower individuals of all abilities to express themselves, providing an opportunity for self-reflection and relationship building.”
“This photo was taken right outside the Coppell Arts Center, where I voted last month – for the first time in person! To me, it felt more satisfying than mailing in an absentee ballot from Durham.”
Excerpts from Sujal's Writing
November 24, 2020
My third month as a Hart Fellow is in the books!
It finally feels like fall – the brief period when Texas has cooled down after a sweltering summer. The leaves are collecting in my backyard, layering our grass with crunchy brown and yellow hues. It seems like every time we rake them up, a new batch falls. I am enjoying the pleasant weather in the limited hours of daylight we have. Given this change in weather, I’ve started running again. Full disclaimer: I am a terrible runner (please don’t ask for my mile time!) but it is a nice way to clear my mind at the end of the day.
A quick recap of my fellowship work: my IRB was approved and I’m starting data collection this week! I just had a lovely interview this afternoon with one of the Imagine Art artists. This is a big milestone in my project, and I’m glad that it’s moving along.
The recent vaccine news from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca gives me hope that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. I’m optimistic that things will be back to “normal” sooner than later. Maybe even soon enough for a Class of 2020 graduation, but perhaps that’s too optimistic…
I’ve also thought about how some institutions will never return to the “normal” that we knew before. Someone recently told me that times of crisis force us to reevaluate the way we do things, and I couldn’t agree more. The pandemic has highlighted devastating inequities, particularly in health and health care, and my work at Imagine Art has revealed the broken system of support for people with disabilities in this country.
And while I am imagining a world “back to normal,” we are certainly not there yet. The recent COVID-19 spikes have limited my already-minimal social activities, but I have found more time to read and paint in the past few weeks.
Here are some of the highlights:
This past month has given me ample time to read. I started chipping away at the endless list of book recommendations saved on my phone, as I realized my local library allows book pick-ups in a safe, socially-distant manner. Some of my recent reads: No Apparent Distress by Rachel Pearson; Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman; The One by John Marrs; No Exit by Taylor Adams; The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins; Educated by Tara Westover.Next on my list is Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Let me know if you have any recommendations! I’ve also gotten into lots of art-making this month! I find myself creating a new drawing or sketch every day as I work with my group of artists. This was a practice that all my high school art teachers would recommend, but something I rarely maintained in the busy whirlwind of Duke. I’m also considering selling some of my artwork and prints, which is something I have not previously explored. Here are some of my favorites from the past month. The first one is a Duke Chapel Painting. The second one is a large scale (36” x 40”) abstract piece I created, similar to some work I did in high school. I haven’t experimented with this art style for the past few years, so I was surprised by how easily it came back to me.
Mexico City, Mexico
Human Rights and Immigrant Justice
Tyler Kopp is a 2020 Duke graduate with a degree in public policy and a double major in Spanish. During his time at Duke, Tyler was involved with research and volunteer experiences that centered around immigration justice and community empowerment. A Benjamin N. Duke Scholar, Tyler interned with Immigration Equality in New York City and Otros Dreams en Acción in Mexico City.
Tyler Kopp will spend his fellowship in Mexico City with Otros Dreams en Acción, an organization focused on providing support and advocacy for people who were deported from the United States. The fellowship marks a return to ODA for Kopp, as he interned there during the summer of 2018. He hopes to work on a project supporting the group’s family reunification initiative and help with policy analysis. At Duke, Kopp—a Benjamin N. Duke Scholar—led the Peer Advocacy for Sexual Health organization and was the Latinx Member Services Coordinator for the Community Empowerment Fund. He was also a legal intern for Immigration Equality in New York City and a teaching assistant in the Sanford School of Public Policy. Originally from Boiling Spring Lakes, N.C., he graduated with degrees in public policy and Spanish.
Kopp noted that he is motivated to work on immigrant justice issues because of his personal experiences.
“I’m committed to fighting for human rights and justice beyond deportation and family separation because knowing what isolation from families and communities can feel like, and listening to the returned community speak about their experiences with it, I don’t see non-action as an option,” Kopp said.
“Here’s a recent car selfie I took!”
Excerpts from Tyler's Writing
It’s been a busy month at ODA! The biggest reason is that, in the final days of October and first two of November, we hosted Duelo en Resistencia: In Honor of those that Rest in Power. Coinciding with Day of the Dead, we organized various workshops in the first few days, including workshops on the significance of traditional Day of the Dead customs and a poetry slam. On November 1, we organized a translocal action through Zoom. In about 20 cities throughout Mexico and the US (and one in Germany!) we created altars, lists of demands, and artistic expressions of collective grief and solidarity for those who have passed away due to institutions that criminalize and kill. In Durham, I organized a small action with Liliana and Melissa, two dear friends/Duke professors. We made an altar and tuned into the Zoom where each translocal ally took turns speaking and sharing.
I think that was the highlight of my month!! It was so lovely. J
Research-related work is also going well. My team and I are getting into drafting some aspects of our final protocol, to be based on the main project I’m working on with ODA’s Accompaniment team. We’re planning to submit the document to the Mexico City government with the hopes of changing the local institutional infrastructure around return migration.
Apart from work, it has also been a good month. I have to say, the colder temperatures and shorter days have never been my favorites; I love warm, long afternoons and summer nights, and those are undeniably behind us this calendar year. However, I’m doing my best to make the most of the days and getting outside whenever I can. I’m also eating my way through Raleigh; I’ve found some great pho and pizza takeout, most recently. I’m cooking a lot with my roommates as well. Cooking, listening to music, and sharing meals with others are some of my favorite things in this life, and this year has been incredible for new music! Most recently, I’ve been listening to Kali Uchis’ new album, but I love the more general wave of disco and synth pop that has streamed in this year (Lady Gaga, Jessie Ware, Kylie Minogue, to name a few).
Even amid social distancing restrictions, 18 Duke undergrads are working on virtual summer projects through Service Opportunities in Leadership (SOL), a signature component of the Hart Leadership Program.