“Artwarming,” a new podcast hosted by Dominique Ocampo, ‘22, aims to help the Lehigh community reflect on creativity and mental health while COVID-19 is keeping everyone socially distant.
Ocampo is an intern for the Pride Center, and she has been responsible for organizing and advertising the Pride Center’s Mental Health Monday events since last fall.
The purpose of these events was to allow students to de-stress for an hour during a regular day. One event featured a self-care concert in Upper Cort, which created a relaxing space and helped to raise mental health awareness.
As Ocampo worked to continue events like this, the coronavirus pandemic and the closing of Lehigh for the rest of the semester halted her future plans.
“In an effort to keep this love for art and mindfulness going, I got the idea to create ‘Artwarming’, and the rest is history,” Ocampo said.
In her first episode, she had a few guests, including Christa Neu, a photographer for Lehigh’s Communications and Public Affairs department, who also works with Allentown’s Healing Through the Arts, a local non-profit created by Heather Rodale, ‘74, ‘76G.
Once Neu heard about the podcast, she quickly reached out to Ocampo and became one of Ocampo’s first guests. She was also one of the first people to highlight her artwork on the podcast.
“I think we’re at a point in time where we’re all getting ‘Zoomed out,’ and listening to podcasts is a great way to hear stories and ideas while you’re doing things away from your computer,” Neu said. “It’s a great channel to connect with people and let them think about ideas that they may relate to, or introduce them to things they may not have thought about before.”
As one of the first guests, Neu said she hopes to hear new and interesting things from other guests to come.
She said she is hoping to learn about ways other people are doing positive self-care at this time, and how it might help students feel more connected to campus.
“I just want to hear stories about people’s variety of experiences during this time,” Neu said. “We’re all experiencing this pandemic, and although some of that looks the same, it is also deeply personalized at the same time. There’s a connectedness that comes from hearing other people’s stories.”
When recording these podcasts, Ocampo aims to ignite feelings in her listeners.
She hopes for listeners to find calmness and laughter in the episodes, just as making the podcast has helped her feel more positive and occupied, Ocampo said.
“Dom (Ocampo) has been phenomenal in her enthusiasm for the projects she has produced, bringing her sweet, highly attuned presence to work,” said Mary Ellen Kitchen, the Pride Center coordinator. “The podcast is another example of Dom’s professionalism, intellect and ability to seek creative avenues for providing the community with soulful outlets for excellent mental health practices.”
As of now, Ocampo’s plan is to produce a few more episodes and wrap things up by final exams. She said would love to continue making the podcast through the summer, however, and next semester, if possible.
Recently, she created an Instagram account for the podcast, hoping to provide positive messages to its followers that highlight certain parts of the podcast and respond to listeners who have questions or comments.