Site Photographs from Chichen Itza Gold Gorvy Traveling Seminar Available
May 7, 2020
As part of the Visual Resources Center’s initiative to support Art History graduate students’ personal image archiving efforts, the VRC collaborated with four students in Professor Claudia Brittenham’s Autumn 2019 course on Chichen Itza to photographically document the ancient Mesoamerican city and simultaneously augment the department’s image collections for teaching and research. Brittenham’s course, a Gold Gorvy Traveling Seminar, culminated in a week-long excursion to Chichen Itza and related sites such as Kabah, Mayapan, and Uxmal in December 2019.
The VRC worked with four students in the course before the travel component to discuss strategies for photographing in the field, provided an orientation to the camera equipment, and explained how to back-up photos in the field while keeping track of site metadata to describe the photographs later. After the conclusion of the traveling seminar, the VRC cataloged the resulting set of more than 300 photographs according to the VRA Core 4 digital library metadata standard and incorporated the images and data into our LUNA database. The images can be accessed here (CNetID required).
Art historical image collections such as the VRC’s LUNA database (including our analog ancestors, the 35mm and lantern slide collections) have long relied on communities of scholars to build a collective archive through shared images, connecting past, present, and future colleagues. For some of the participating students, the seminar provided the first introductions to documenting in the field and maintaining personal research image collections, both fundamental practices of art historians.
The VRC is excited for these opportunities to collaborate with students to build the image collection based on the opportunities for object-driven and original research that the Gold Gorvy Traveling Seminars create. In addition to LUNA’s existing corpus of images of Mesoamerican sites digitized from exhibition catalogs, ephemera, and other publications over the years, the December 2019 original photographs of Chichen Itza join Claudia Brittenham’s fieldwork photographs from a 2003 research trip to the site, creating a deep archive of documentation. These collections benefit current faculty and student users while shaping the research archive that future generations of scholars will inherit.