“The artist cannot and must not take anything for granted, but must drive to the heart of every answer and expose the question the answer hides.”

- James Baldwin from “The Creative Process” 1962

Contemporary ARts Memphis
June 4th to June 30th, 2023

Following the successful launch of the Contemporary Arts Memphis “CAM” Summer Fellowship in Summer 2022, we are excited to announce the 2023 summer fellowship starting Sunday, June 4th through Friday, June 30th, 2023. The four-week program is open to high school students entering 11th and 12th grades from schools across Memphis and surrounding areas. The first three weeks will be spent, sleep-away style, at St. Columba Retreat Center in North Memphis. Programming will include college-level instruction at the University of Memphis, specialized workshops from industry professionals, studio time, and peer-focused group discussions.

The 4th week of the program will be spent in New York City, where Fellows will visit cultural institutions, meet working artists, tour galleries, and get a taste of NYC life. After the Summer Fellowship, alumni will have the opportunity to participate in year-round programming to support our Fellows' artistic and educational journey throughout their high school experience. CAM is excited to begin to build an Alumni Fellow network of
Memphis creatives!  


A summer immersive for young artists at the beginning of a lifelong commitment to making art.

CAM Summer Fellowship

Gain access to the world of Contemporary Art through exposure and instruction. Learn how to establish a studio practice. Build a network of like-minded peers. And chart a course for your educational plans for college and beyond.

Applications Open for the 2024 Summer Fellowship:
TBA Early Fall 2023

Eligibility: Rising 11th and 12th graders from Memphis or the surrounding areas

Questions: Email nick@camsummer.org or info@camsummer.org

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Turn your talent into a lifestyle.


Our four week schedule is a combination of university-level led learning opportunities, specialized workshops from arts professionals and peer-focused group discussion. Independent learning and discovery is possible during individual studio hours. And experiential learning is possible through numerous studio and gallery visits.


Our instructional model places inspiration on par with information. It is essential to the artist and the bedrock of our program. In addition to structural learning opportunities, the program features one week of travel designed to stimulate the ambition of our fellows. Through visits to artists studios, world class museums and leading contemporary art galleries, we center experiential learning: no filter and no editorializing — just your perspective and your point of view.


We provide access through discourse, instruction and experience. Discussions around the many possible solutions to living a life centered around creativity, assessing which college experience is best suited for you and the opportunity to pose questions to working professionals are a few examples. Beyond the world of information available online, we aim to make information a living resource with a priority on the active exchange of ideas.

The CAM Summer Fellowship Program is provided at no-cost to all Summer Fellows regardless of financial background. This includes all fees for instruction, lodging, food, supplies, and travel. There are no out-of-pocket expenses.

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Support access for young artists.

Contemporary Arts Memphis is the region’s first organization focused on identifying and nurturing the next generation of contemporary artists. Through a competitive screening process, we aim to identify and develop exceptional creative talent in the visual arts.

Founded by Memphis native and New York-based artist Derek Fordjour, CAM Summer Fellowship is designed to empower artists early in their development in ways that expand their thinking, inspire ambition and expose them to experiences that inform better decision making. CAM Summer Fellowship is an effort to demystify the creative journey and to make the art world more accessible.

2023 CAM Board of Directors
derek fordjour
Ike Fordjour
Lauren Kennedy
Yashua Klos
Lisa Opoku (President)
Elliot Perry
Manon Slome
Ed Stanton (Secretary)

CAM Advisory Board
Pinkney Herbert
Corrine Jones
Victoria Jones
Zoe Kahr
Stephanie Pierce
Bryant Terry

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.

- Seneca

Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times.

- Anonymous

Derek Fordjour

Derek Fordjour, founder of CAM Summer Fellowship Program, was born in Memphis, Tennessee to parents of Ghanaian heritage. His work has been exhibited in numerous venues including The Whitney Museum of American Art; BAM, Brooklyn; and Josh Lilley Gallery, London. He has received commissions for public projects including a permanent installation for Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York City at 145th Street Subway Station and The Whitney Museum Billboard Project. He was awarded 2016 Sugarhill Museum Artist-in-Residence, the 2017 Sharpe Walentas Studio Program in New York City, and named the 2018 Deutsche Bank NYFA Fellowship Award. He is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia, earned a Master’s Degree in Art Education from Harvard University and an MFA in painting at Hunter College. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Hyperallergic. He has also been featured in several publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and Forbes Magazine. He was recently appointed The Alex Katz Chair at Cooper Union and serves as a Core Critic at Yale University School of Art. His work also appears in several collections including The Studio Museum of Harlem, Brooklyn Museum, Perez Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum and LACMA.


Nick Darmstaedter

Fellowship Director

Derek Patterson

Associate Fellowship Director

Leslie Bouldin


Christy Gilmour

Communications Director

Frequently Asked Questions

What is your acceptance Process and how many fellows does CAM accept?

CAM Summer Fellowship Program identifies fellows through a competitive process. The first step is applying for the program through our website. You will need to prepare a high quality portfolio of work with clear examples of original artwork, thoughtfully answer the questions, submit your grades and secure up to 3 recommendation letters from an art teacher, counselor, teacher, pastor, etc. CAM's mission is to develop a pipeline of artistic talent; priority will be given to those applicants who envision an education or career in the arts. Students must be high schoolers entering 11th or 12th grades. If you have applied before and were not accepted, you can re-apply. The second step is an interview - these will be conducted virtually. CAM 2023 Fellows will be notified of their acceptance to the Summer Fellowship in early April. Each Cohort will accept 25 Fellows.

I do not have a good art program in my school. How do I make art to show?

CAM understands that not all students have access to in-school arts programming and quality materials. We accept all forms of art in your portfolio of work. Drawings, sculptures, photography, paintings, prints, sketchbook work, animations, or digital work are all accepted. Find the space and time to create work, whether it is in your bedroom, kitchen, living room, school cafeteria, or classroom. Some amazing work can be done quickly in a sketchbook with limited time. Document your work to the best of your ability. Your instructors may be able to help you with this, but if that is not possible, find a space that has even, natural light and take a few clear, and focused photos. Limit shadows and crop the images down so that the art fills the whole image. For your benefit, we have purposefully ensured a lengthier application period so you can have time to develop these creative expressions for your application.

My art is good but my grades are not. Should I still apply?

Yes! In our application process, the greatest weight is given to your original artwork. You may offer an explanation of your academic record in the written portion of your application and at your in-person/virtual interview. CAM is also cognizant of access and understanding not all young people have shared the same educational and artistic supports. Our Fellowship will proudly be representative of the community we serve.

What is campus life like?

CAM Summer Fellowship Program is an on-site, sleep away immersive experience at St. Columba Retreat Center located in North Memphis. We have a separate CAM-only building on the campus, where Fellows will sleep, eat, learn, create and enjoy the beautiful forested campus. Fellows will be housed in dormitory style rooms (2/room with shared bathrooms); there is a "mess hall," large hall for educational programming and screened in porches. Fellows will travel to the University of Memphis Monday-Thursday for university instructor led sessions, both in the morning and afternoon. Between Friday - Sunday, Fellows will experience local Memphis cultural institutions and a few spots to just have fun! Fellows will also participate in educational, professional and personal Pathways sessions, designed to help build their knowledge base. It's important to know that we will be asking Fellows to be "in the moment" -- to build community with their peers on campus. For this reason, there will be times without cell phone usage. (Parents/Guardians: Please note that there is a staff member with a phone at all times.) Fellows are also discouraged from leaving campus during the Memphis-based program.

What is the New york city experience like?

New York City is a truly special experience - it is a big, bustling city that offers so many cultural activities. Fellows will be flying there; CAM staff will arrange ticketing and all logistics. Prior to the trip, Fellows will receive a briefing and a "travel 101" to help the group prepare for the experience. While in New York, Fellows will get to visit Derek's studio, spend time getting to see some university campuses, visiting galleries, iconic museums like The Met and meeting other artists. It's a fast-paced trip to a city of 8.3 million; we may be using buses and public transportation to move around the city. Fellows will have their phones available during this portion of CAM.

What do i need to bring with me?

Once you are accepted into the Fellowship, there will be a registration packet for both parents/guardians and incoming Fellows. Within these materials will be a checklist for both the Memphis and New York sites. Know that you can bring the artistic tools and materials you enjoy working with most! We will also provide materials for you.