Highlands Students Complete Emergency Cultural Projects for New Mexico Museums

July 15, 2020

Las Vegas, N.M. – Children who visit the Santa Fe Children’s Museum website during the COVID 19 pandemic can learn how to make a stop motion animated video about bees, thanks to Natasha Vasquez, a New Mexico Highlands University media arts and technology graduate.

image of Natasha Vasquez

Natasha Vasquez

Vasquez’ “We Bee Buzzin’” video project is among 12 online emergency cultural services projects that Highlands University students and recent graduates completed for New Mexico museums and cultural nonprofits in May and June through a partnership with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

“Stop motion is a type of animation where objects are photographed in different positions, then the photos are played together and the objects look like they are moving,” Vasquez said. “I thought this animation project was something children would enjoy doing at home. The most important outcome I want for the children is that they have fun learning something new and along the way, they learn a little about bees and why they are important to the world.”


Vasquez said she produced the three educational videos because she wanted to help the Santa Fe Children’s Museum have virtual content for its Fine Art Fridays program, which was presented in person before COVID-19.


Vasquez, who earned her media arts and technology BFA from Highlands in May 2020 with an emphasis in multimedia and interactivity, said she was grateful for the internship opportunity with the museum.

Image of bee from video

New Mexico Highlands University’s Natasha Vasquez created a “We Bee Buzzin’” stop motion animated video project for the Santa Fe Children’s Museum.

“It was very rewarding to help a museum during these complicated times,” said Vasquez, a 22-year-old native of Taos, New Mexico.


Leona Hilary is the education director at the Santa Fe Children’s Museum and was one of Vasquez’ mentors.


“Natasha’s internship was so helpful to the museum during a time of need and she was very inspiring to work with,” Hilary said. “Having a young budding professional teach children enforces that artists have widespread impact in sharing a message of meaning in both content and technique, and to the child shows that being creative is a valuable and exciting thing we can do at home or anywhere.”


Vasquez’ video project, and all the Highlands media arts and technology student work for emergency cultural services, are featured online at http://www.cctnewmexico.org/projects/


“In light of disruptions in normal operations for museums in New Mexico, Highlands University’s Cultural Technology Internship Program, in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, offered six-week emergency cultural services at no cost to museums,” said Lauren Addario, a Highlands media arts faculty member who directs the Cultural Technology Internship Program. “Our student interns helped create virtual online tours, online exhibitions, video documentation, animation and online educational materials.”

The Highlands students and graduates did the work remotely for New Mexico Historic Sites, Museum of International Folk Art, New Mexico Museum of Art, National Hispanic Cultural Center, City of Las Vegas Museum, Bradbury Science Museum, El Rancho de las Golondrinas, 516 Arts, and the New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children.


“The partnership between Highlands and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs has been going strong for 15 years. When we see a need in our partner organizations, we want to help fill it, especially now during the pandemic,” Addario said.


Addario said that evaluations showed that 100% of the organizations were happy with the projects and performance of the Highlands paid interns.


Funding for the emergency cultural services, including stipends for interns, came from the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, Seabury Foundation, Friends of Media Arts, McCaffrey Family Endowment, and miscellaneous organizations.