The journey is usually more interesting than the destination, unless the journey and destination are at Meow Wolf. When we think about the journey we can envision the path, set outcome expectations, and be directed into the unknown by mentors who shine a light to lead the way. How can we twist and turn these expectations when we drop 9 fresh minds into another dimension? By giving them the power to change their worlds.
This summer, Meow Wolf established our first official internship in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which took place over the course of 8 weeks. The internship was propelled forward by the work that came out of our Inclusion Diversity Equity Accessibility (IDEA) team, putting words to action in our efforts toward achieving equity in our company and community.
We partnered up with the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and The University of New Mexico (UNM) to select 9 interns from diverse artistic backgrounds, ranging from sophomores to graduate students. More than half of the interns were from Native American tribes, and all were local New Mexicans.
The interns were placed in following departments:
The duties and experiences for each intern were different, but most interns got to shadow team members and participate in work sessions, brainstorming and ideation sessions, and cross-departmental collaboration. The cohort programming model included professional development workshops and presentations by team members across the company to give the interns a general understanding of the company as a whole. Each student was paid a wage of $17 hourly in a part-time flexible schedule.
Jazmin Novak worked with the AD&P team alongside Gilbert White. The two are students of IAIA and come from the Navajo Nation (Dińe). Jazmin is a sculptor and was able to expand her wheelhouse of skills with welding on a larger scale. She dove into a project involving finding better materials to fit a large platform. Jazmin and Gilbert worked together to learn about what fabrics, paints or other materials would work best for this future project. Gilbert also came with a background in fashion, painting and a renewed love for acting. He made an impression on the staff and has a mural located at Meow Wolf that centers people within a geometric vortex.
Elizabeth Wilkinson is a Studio Arts Major at UNM with a concentration in photography and a minor in museum studies. She worked with Jeannette Martinez at Attraction Operations. Jeannette is a PhD student in the Art History program at UNM, writing about US Latinx diasporas through a visual culture lens. Together, they spearheaded the integration of the Enklu AR/VR hardware and explored the possibilities of augmented reality inside House of Eternal Return.
Britney King worked on Visual Development. She’s an MFA student at UNM, and sees Meow Wolf as one of the top choices for her future career. Britney is a student-educator who reflects on her mother’s time in Indian School on the Navajo Reservation, and hopes to give back to her people as a first generation college student. Britney wants to curate for Indigi-Queer art, and discussed the importance of having a seat at the table.
Jeanette DeDios directed not one, but three short films for Meow Wolf’s Denver project. While making these films, Gilbert reignited his passion for acting as he performed the role of Thunpayah, a mischievous character in a futuristic Hotel. Lindsey Toya-Tosa, from the Story Experience Team and IAIA, created the character based on her Towa culture. Thunpayah is a word that describes something “loud and obnoxious.” She wrote about a scene that incorporated elements of her culture in a cleanly executed portrayal of Indigenous futurisms. It can be a fine line to navigate such a cultural story, but Lindsey based hers on conversations with her family and the aforementioned descriptor word, rather than describing a person from history or story.
Bryson Meyers, a graduate from IAIA, worked in Business Development. He worked on spreadsheets for financial components of each department and researched financial business opportunities for Meow Wolf. In connection to the research, Bryson put together PowerPoint presentations for several financial topics. He summarized the Meow Wolf experience: “Meow Wolf is creating a free world and the audience gets to interact and feel. You can have a bad day, you walk in, and that’s gone. You’re a kid again. It’s a whole other twisted realm, and that’s the beauty of it.”
Sage Simpson, who worked closely as an assistant with Ali Rubenstein in Creative Administration, was also able to act in the short films directed by Jeanette DeDios. She performed as an elder who was playing the slot machine in a memory of a casino. Sage worked on a lot of research for creative immersive experiences around the world in Creative Administration, as well as Learning & Development prompts for the company. Working at Meow Wolf made her think about travelling and expanding her worldview beyond living in New Mexico.
Upon completion of the internship, Bryson Meyers and Britney King applied to work with us at House of Eternal Return, and are the newest members of the Attraction Operations team! As we move forward with programming and opportunities for our local communities, we’ll strive to use our company as a platform and resource to elevate the next generation of artists. We envision creating a clear pathway for young artists to find careers at places like Meow Wolf.