Mayor Lee Harris honors 25 high school student artists after first Summer Fellowship Program

CAM's 2022 Summer Fellowship Program participants, along with Derek Fordjour (front bottom).
CAM's 2022 Summer Fellowship Program participants, along with Derek Fordjour (front bottom).(Contemporary Arts Memphis)
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 4:55 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A nonprofit organization whose mission is to identify and empower under-resourced student artists celebrated its first completed Summer Fellowship class on Sunday.

The celebration recognized the 25 Memphis-area student artists who participated in the Contemporary Arts Memphis (CAM) Summer Fellowship Program, following an announcement of an endowed scholarship at the University of Memphis and an announcement by Mayor Lee Harris of the $81,000 Next Generation Empowerment Stipend for Shelby County high school students.

An awards ceremony and art exhibition were also held during Sunday’s celebration.

“This was an amazing day of recognition and announcements to keep art alive in Shelby County,” said Derek Fordjour, founder of CAM. “We are so proud to recognize our first Summer Fellowship class and take a look back at our time together over the summer.”

The CAM Summer Fellowship Program is a four-week program featuring artmaking, contemporary art history, professional development workshops, artist mentors, and during the final week, the “Fellows” travel to New York City to visit museums and artist studios at the epicenter of the art world.

"Fellows" of the 2022 CAM Summer Fellowship Program with Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and...
"Fellows" of the 2022 CAM Summer Fellowship Program with Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and Derek Fordjour, founder of CAM.(Contemporary Arts Memphis)

Fordjour, a Memphis native and New York-based artist, designed the program to help young Memphis-area artists understand the art world, improve art-making skills, and expose them to successful models at no cost to them or their families.

“We can’t thank Shelby County enough for investing in the future of art here in Shelby County with their $81,000 Next Generation Empowerment Stipend announcement today,” Fordjour said.

This grant fund will provide for $15/hour stipends for ten qualifying youth artists-in-development in the CAM program for nine months of art-related work.

“Our community is known around the globe for our contributions to culture, music, and the creative arts. Contemporary Arts Memphis and the young artists they work with are carrying the torch of that proud legacy,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. “We are proud to support them with the CAM Our Next Generation Artist Empowerment stipend. We know that CAM has poured into these young people and it’s our hope that these financial resources will allow them to hone their skills, achieve their dreams, and make sure that Memphis continues to share our art with the world.”

The stipends will provide students facing economic challenges, who usually work part-time jobs to help support their families, with paid “opportunity hours” to focus on their art and artistic development.

“The grant will ensure young citizens of Shelby County who are passionate and serious about their art will have the opportunity to develop the skills, techniques, experiences, and art pieces that will be so important to their growth as artists and their ability to contribute vibrantly to their communities,” Fordjour said.

Next Generation Empowerment stipend recipients will have had to complete the CAM Summer Fellowship, must be a rising junior or senior, and have plans to attend art school or a vocational school pursuing a degree associated with the arts to qualify for the stipend assistance.

The CAM Summer Fellowship Program was founded by Derek Fordjour, a Memphis native and New...
The CAM Summer Fellowship Program was founded by Derek Fordjour, a Memphis native and New York-based artist.(Contemporary Arts Memphis)

“I am also proud to announce the endowed scholarship for students in the Department of Art at the University of Memphis, which will help college art students pursue their education, dreams, and careers in art,” Fordjour said.

The $50,000 endowment will provide a scholarship of $2,000 to Contemporary Arts Fellows Alumni each year in perpetuity.

Sunday’s celebration presented the following awards:

  • The 2022 Faculty Recognition Award was presented to Rowan Lundrigan, Bartlett High School, 10th grade, and Bella Henderson, Briarcrest High School, 11th grade.
  • The 2022 CAM Community Resource Award was presented to Yami Barbosa, Arlington High School, 12th grade.
  • The 2022 Bill Hicks Founders Award was presented to Chrystian Anderson, Cordova High School, 11th grade.

Applications for the 2023 CAM Summer Fellowship Program will open on November 1.

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