Legendary photographer Ansel Adams once said he believes that the artist and his art are only a part of the total human experience — the viewer in the world at large is the essential other part.

Were he alive today, Adams might appreciate the interactive online display and digital video a Highlands University media arts student created for viewers of the exhibit “Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities” at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. Two of America’s best known artists, Adams and O’Keeffe first met in Taos in 1929.

Leif Percifield, a May graduate of the Highlands University Media Arts Program, produced the interactive online piece for the museum’s Web site to help viewers understand the complex process Adams used to create his timeless photographs. Percifield also produced a digital video for museum visitors featuring an interview with Alan Ross, an Ansel Adams assistant.

“Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams are two iconic artists who had an extraordinary appreciation for the natural world with each claiming a part of the American west in their work,” said Barbara Buhler Lynes, chief curator for the Georgia O’Keeffe museum and also the director of the museum’s research center.  “I think the Highlands student did excellent work that helped people understand the artistic and technical complexities of Ansel Adam’s photographs. We’re looking forward to working with Highlands on the introductory video for the upcoming show.”

Miriam Langer is a professor in the Highlands University Media Arts Program and also chairs the university’s Visual and Performing Arts Department.

Langer said Percifield’s projects for the Georgia O’Keeffe museum are just one example of a successful media arts internship. The cutting-edge Media Arts Program prepares students to work as professionals in fields such as graphic design, Web development, multimedia programming, and the film industry.”

Through the Media Arts Program, students get to participate in presenting New Mexico culture and history,” Langer said. “It’s really exciting when our students work with museums and other cultural institutions on an idea and then brings the project to life.”

Langer said an ongoing partnership with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs allows the university to place students in internships throughout the state. Some examples include the Palace of the Governors, the new Santa Fe Railyard, the SITE Santa Fe Biennial, the Santa Fe Opera, and closer to home, the City of Las Vegas Museum.”

We have more demand for media arts students than we have students to do the work,” Langer said.  “So far anyone who has hosted one of our students in an internship has nothing but praise for them and always requests future interns.”

Ten Highlands media arts students will demonstrate their internship projects in a special session at the New Mexico Association of Museums annual conference in October.

Langer said there are 60 undergraduate media arts students and 15 to 20 graduate students. She added that every media arts student who graduated in May is now employed in their field of study. For example, Percifield works as a multimedia developer for the Los Alamos National Labs. “The students in our Media Arts Program are talented and work really hard,” Langer said. “We’re also very fortunate to have media arts faculty who care about preparing students for the professional world.”