By RACHEL S. WALLACH ’15
“People say that nothing has changed in this country, but seeing Obama stand at the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King stood all those years ago proves that there has been change. I was overwhelmed to see Obama standing there,” said JJ Pryor, Managing Director of Communications at Manhattanville College.
One may have thought that she was just an observer, but once she started to speak about the colorful images in the wall, it was clear that she was the beautiful mind behind this exhibit. JJ Pryor was in the process of receiving her MFA in creative writing when she first had the idea for the “Living the Dream” exhibit now featured in the Berman Student Center. She decided along with First Lady of Manhattanville College Jean Strauss to turn this final project into something for the public.
Initially, it simply started out as “The Grandmother Project,” where she asked six fellow students to write 300 words about their grandmothers’ dreams and aspirations and contrast it to their own. But one of the “Original Six” as she called them, Indiadora Nicholson ‘15, took this project to her peers in the Black Student Union and everyone loved the idea of its expansion.
Brian McAlister, a junior at Manhattanville said, “The display is so beautiful and colorful. It is so inspiring to see all of the different generations and how they all connect with each other. “
“At first I just thought it was a really cool idea, but once I read the other (students) stories I was humbled,” says Monique Mitchell, a senior who is featured in the project. “I was so inspired to read about the strength of these women, and I felt like I was part of a legacy,” said Mitchell.
Graphic designer Tun Aung who designed the wall was excited to see it up. “The wall needed color,” he said. It did, and he created an amazing piece for Manhattanville. Everyone involved felt like they were a part of the Manhattanville community, and that makes this project so much more meaningful. “If you plant a seed and water it, it can grow into a mighty tree. This project is my mighty tree,” said Pryor.