What an inspiring and stimulating summer for The ONWARD Project as we conclude our Intern Program 2021!  We collaborated remotely with our three participants: Carter Smallcanyon, a high school student in Utah; Ethan Kim, a high school student in Northern California; and Leon Cruz, a USC Masters candidate in Southern California. During our first three weeks, through Zoom discussions and selections from our extensive digital archive, we introduced the history, content, and cultural implications of the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition in addition to the foundational elements of visual storytelling and building a narrative.  The remaining weeks were devoted to the challenge for Ethan and Carter to develop a video connecting the RBMVExpedition to personal memory, community memory or to a concurrent historic event. They undertook the creation of a personal vision, storyboard, illustrations, text, animation and audio. Leon was an invaluable leader with his consistent encouragement and support, technical expertise and facility with visual storytelling and sensitivity as a collaborator.

Keep scrolling to enjoy the final video presentations and the two Virtual Reality models along with short bios of each intern!

 Thank you to the generosity of our private donors who made our Summer Intern Program 2021 possible. 


Hi, I’m Carter Smallcanyon and I am a Navajo Indian. I am a result oriented person, and enjoy working on projects that I can see a result in. I also enjoy sharing experiences and stories, which is why I enjoy making art in various different forms. Essentially I really enjoy being able to share things with people, whether it be an experience like VR, a culture with my friends, or sharing something like a beaded bracelet that I made. 


Hi, I am Ethan Kim and I’m a second generation Korean American who currently resides in Palo Alto (California) and am a rising junior at Henry M. Gunn High, but will be attending Foothill Middle College for my last two years. Starting at a very young age, I’ve always appreciated and loved art and learning about different cultures and their unique stories, so I hope to major in Art History, Art, or Anthropology when I attend college. During my free time, I enjoy rowing competitively at NorCal Crew, serving as an Eagle Scout at Scouts BSA and growing bonsai trees.


The last component of the summer was a full collaboration between Leon, Carter, and Ethan, combining their mutual drawing, technical and storytelling skills.  They met this final challenge with the creation of two Virtual 3-D models developed in real time through a virtual shared drawing space as Carter narrated his memories of two places to which he and his family and the stories of the Expedition are connected.

Click the links below to enjoy walking yourself around these models!

A little more about Leon…
My name is Leon Cruz, a recent graduate from the University of Southern California’s Digital Arts and Animation Program. I specialize in 3D animation, motion capture and also have a fine arts background in painting, drawing and sculpting. I really like helping, being technical plus creative, especially while trying to tell a story dynamically with moving images, characters and of course animation.