Read About VIRCONA
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VIRCONA is a database of Native North American visual artists. It is a web-accessible subset of the Native American entries in the electronic catalog to the collections of over 300,000 35mm slides in the Bainbridge Bunting Memorial Slide Library (now Bunting Visual Resources Library, BVRL) at the University of New Mexico (UNM). VIRCONA was created to be a shared resource on the Internet for the nonprofit use of educational, research, scholarly, and cultural institutions.

  teal bullet History of the Project  

VIRCONA is an acronym of Visual Resources Catalog Of Native American Artists. It was established in 2000 as part of a two-year project funded by the Educational Foundation of America (EFA) for the Regents of the University of New Mexico. The project was a collaboration of the BVRL with the Arts of Americas Institute (a former program of the UNM College of Fine Arts) to share the Native American portion of the slide library's artist authority and cataloging data with other educational visual resources collections. The project was a response to the EFA's interest in sponsoring projects related to Native Americans and the arts and to the AAI's mission to promote the recognition of the arts in the Western Hemisphere, especially of cultures that have been historically marginalized.

To build VIRCONA, AppQuest Consulting, LLC was hired to expand the slide library's existing database structure of that data to a searchable relational database. To further facilitate the sharing of information, VIRCONA adopted four recognized data standards for sharing arts information.

For recording artists names and associated information, VIRCONA used the Core comprehensive list of fields from the Getty Vocabulary Program's   Union List of Artists Names (ULAN). For cataloging artworks, VIRCONA embraced the Visual Resources Association's Core Categories for describing cultural objects and images. As controlled vocabularies for art terms and the documentation of geographic names, VIRCONA licensed the Getty Vocabulary Program's   Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) and Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN).

Yeti Consulting and Acuity Works were engaged to create a web interface to the database using Macromedia's (now Adobe) ColdFusion and Macromedia's Dreamweaver. Visual Resources Interns, advanced graduate students from the Arts of the Americas Graduate Program of UNM's Department of Art & Art History were employed to populate the database with carefully researched information about the artists and sample artworks. Interns worked under the guidance of BVRL professional staff and in consultation with Dr. Joyce Szabo, Associate Professor of Native American Art at UNM. UNM's College of Fine Arts Computer Support Group (CSG) took on the permanent responsibility of hosting the site. While the two-year project created VIRCONA, the BVRL continues to add artists, sample artworks and information to the database, improve its accuracy, and enhance its capabilities.

  teal bullet Aims of the Project  

VIRCONA is intended to permit on-line access to some of the catalog information about Native American artists represented in the BVRL. Not only will this access share data existing in the BVRL with others, it also will make available a shared resource for cataloging information for other visual resources collections, provide information on image availability for educational and non-profit institutions, and improve overall access to information about Native American visual artists and their art. We believe this improved access will be valuable to artists, collectors, curators, librarians, scholars, art historians, teachers, and others, will promote the appreciation, study, market for and future creation of Native American art, and will aid in developing new and more diverse audiences for that art.

  teal bullet Content of the Database  

VIRCONA currently contains information about more than 1500 native North American visual artists, both deceased and living, from across the spectrum of traditional and contemporary practice including painters, printmakers, sculptors, carvers, ceramists, basket makers, textile workers, jewelers, designers, photographers, installation artists, digital artists and more. Data about an artist in VIRCONA can include such information as: name, variant names, identifying dates, nationality, tribal affiliations, life roles, gender, locations of birth and death, and from one to nine artwork samples per artist. Data about the more than 3500 artwork samples currently in VIRCONA can include: a thumbnail to allow visual identification of the work, title, dates of creation, materials, techniques, artwork type, dimensions, owner/location with address or URL, and source information. Our Sources and Copyright page contains more information about the sources of the information in the database as well as copyright issues.

  teal bullet Access to the Database  

Access to the information in VIRCONA is provided by a web-accessible search facility that allows multiple search options. By use of appropriate search options, a user can locate artists or artwork samples within VIRCONA that match data provided by the user. These options range from simple matching against entries in scrollable lookup tables, to advanced searches using combined information about both artists and artwork samples. While the meaning and use of these options can best be understood by using them to search the database, a few search tips are provided to aid the user of VIRCONA.

Since VIRCONA is a project of the Bunting Visual Resources Library at the University of New Mexico, questions about VIRCONA should be directed to the library's staff. Our Contact Page provides the necessary contact information. Before contacting us, please check our Frequently Asked Questions. The answer to your question might be there.