Letters featured in Volume I Issue II of digital zine.
Around one month ago, Michelle and I, spur-of-the-moment decided to start our own multimedia art experiment: Camp Cadmium. With limited experience and time, we set forth on this new adventure that challenged our creativity, our perceptions of originality, but most importantly our relationship with one another and mine with myself.
During the process of creating Camp Cadmium, I encountered many moments of self-doubt with subconscious fears of our idea being rejected or not taken seriously enough by others. Moments of self-doubt ultimately manifested into questions of whether I was artistic enough, genuine enough, experienced enough to follow through with this project. I was afraid to show and talk about Camp Cadmium with others since it would inevitably lead to judgment. I was afraid that others would not understand our vision. Moreover, I caught myself worrying that this was all too much to handle.
Reflecting back, I realize now that my anxieties and feelings of unworthiness are sentiments commonly held by many people when contemplating whether or not to act on their artistic impulses. Expressing yourself through art is a daunting and vulnerable process, especially when you may not be studying/in a creative field; but, I hope that the Camp Cadmium community inspires you to take that first step in releasing your creative energy. I hope that the relationships you develop within our community and the relationship you have with yourself evolve and expand as Camp Cadmium does as well. For those not interested in creating art, I hope that you at least formulate a new appreciation for art and find the passion and purpose to pursue finding your own voice through other outlets.
I cannot even begin to express how emotionally fulfilled I feel right now—the amount of support, open-mindedness, love, excitement, and encouragement I have felt in these last few weeks have been beyond humbling. Furthermore, the amount of incredible talent I have encountered from working with everyone so far has been a real gift. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for proving to me that my worries were fallacious and for giving me the motivation to continue on with Camp Cadmium. You have helped me find creative liberation in a way that is purposeful, meaningful, and authentic. I seriously could not have done this without you. Thank you for entering this space and for being so accepting of our intentions.
As stated before, I have no clue where this project is going to go. I wrestled and continue to wrestle with the fact that I’m not quite sure how to concretely define and label Camp Cadmium. However, I find beauty in the fact that our project is an experiment. This means it is ever-changing and the end results (for now) are unknown. With that said, I cannot wait for us to engage in this experiment together, and I am so excited that I get to share this experience with each and every one of you.
Welcome to Camp Cadmium.
Dear Camp Cadmium,
How I feel as I write this letter is quite similar to how I felt as we began this project; full of unorganized, messy thoughts and ideas, excitement to share them, and hopes to push my personal boundaries through the process, all with a touch of that anxious energy that makes your fingertips tingle. And to be honest, a month into this project and several life transitions later, I still run through those same feelings every time you grow, through a new publication, a new concept, or a new community member.
At your start, when Caitlyn and I realized that you would grow far beyond what we originally imagined (you must be drinking your milk! Something that we both cannot do! You’ll lose your tolerance for lactose soon, don’t worry.), we made a deal with each other that when we left for college, we would set aside a distinct time to focus specifically on your development, aka separating work from play. Turns out, we are really really bad at that. But it also turns out that that is perfectly okay! I think it is beautiful that we, as individuals, are so integrated into this project that we can’t discuss it separately from our personal lives. You are all-encompassing and overwhelmingly inspirational, both in terms of creative ideas and in regards to personal potential.
Which brings me to another point: There is so much potential in this world that can only be harnessed and realized by taking risks and committing to them. I have observed that I tend to shy away from risk, especially if the risk involves exposing my vulnerabilities. When starting this project, I was overwhelmed by imposter syndrome. I have no experience with professional photoshoots nor with visual art direction and our artistic vision for you was foggy at best. During the first photoshoot with Matt, we expressed our anxieties about how you would be conceived and then about how you would be received by others. How he responded was perfectly reassuring and helped push me to take those necessary risks. He said that once you dedicate yourself to a passion of yours, no one can rightfully judge you or disrespect you for pursuing what you love. Doing what you love should be a source of pride. And once you acknowledge that as truth and even more so, once you take the risk and share your passion project with others it becomes an expressed commitment - to yourself, to those you have shared with, and to the project.
Yet, I am still hit with waves of doubt at times. I am a STEM major hoping for a career in medicine and feel constantly pressured to devote all my energy to the advancement of that career. I have never studied design in a formal setting. I find it hard to be certain whether I am creating as myself or if I am just copying what has already been done. But it has only been one month. And I have already learned that a career choice doesn’t define your limits, that art is special because it doesn’t require qualifications, and that identities don’t have to be singular.
So this is a commitment to you. To Camp Cadmium, to ourselves, and to everyone who has already been so incredibly supportive. I hope that you become home to a community that accepts all forms of art created by all types of people. I hope that you continue to excite us, inspire us, and challenge us. I hope that you keep pushing me to share myself with others, to experiment with the unfamiliar, and to connect with the creative individuals I am surrounded by. Thank you.
All my love,