Contemporary Art Purchasing Program looks for artwork for showcase in Stamp

Photo Courtesy of the Stamp Gallery.

By Abby Wallisch

Stamp brings a wide array of people from the University of Maryland together and there’s a group of students hoping to showcase this diversity through art.

Contemporary Art Purchasing Program (CAPP), is a 10-year-old competitive program that places students in a committee responsible for researching and selecting six or seven contemporary pieces to be displayed in Stamp. Currently, this group consists of six undergraduate students who applied and were selected to be apart of CAPP.

“This year was the most people have applied,” said junior physics and economic major Sarang Yeola, who is a student on this year’s committee.

This year-long program requires the students to take ARTT489C in the fall, an art course that combines marketing and art collecting. The professor, Rex Weil, challenges his students to research the contemporary art market and to build an understanding as to which sort of elements determine the price of a piece of art.

The group meets weekly to present and critique art pieces and plan trips to galleries, where look at prospective pieces and collaborate on the pieces they will propose to the CAPP Advisory Board — a panel of CAPP alumni, curators, collectors and art historians — at the end of the spring semester.

During this meeting, the final six or seven contemporary art pieces are carefully considered and must result in a full consensus from all six students. Because this opportunity is available to all undergraduates, there range of majors in the program provides many unique perspectives.

According to Cecilia Wichmann, the students’ advisor, the range of diversity of the all pieces really represent the campus’s larger community.

“I hope that they can all get satisfaction from the work they chose, and [that it] will be representative of the student union and will speak to everyone,” Wichmann said.

Photo by Abby Wallisch.

Wichmann is currently working on her PhD on contemporary art and theory, while balancing her first year as an advisor for CAPP. She worked for The Phillips Collection from 2007 to 2013 and now uses some of her connections from her past experiences to assist her students as they work through the program.

“On top of all the other fundamentally skill-building parts to this program, Cecilia’s really taking full advantage and using her own personal connections totally for our benefit,” said senior Animal Science and Studio Art major Grace DeWitt. “A couple weeks ago we got to go to The Phillip Collection’s conservation studio which is really cool and completely not open to the public at all, so that was really amazing.”

DeWitt said the group recognizes that not everyone coming through Stamp is necessarily looking at the artwork, and that this provides a challenge regarding what they should be focusing on as they work through picking different pieces.

“We don’t want work that’s just beautiful or aesthetically pleasing, but we have to realize that we need a certain amount of that if we want people to stop and look at it, because they’re not prepared to see art here,” DeWitt said.

Past CAPP students have picked artwork that provides visuals to current events or worldly changes, and this continues to be somewhat of an underlying tone to what the students consider for their pieces.


The artwork selected by CAPP is marked by a specific icon so visitors can easily recognize these pieces. The current committee will have their artwork on view in Stamp next fall.

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