11/5/21 - 5/5/22

Since the fall of 2015, Economics professor Stephen Sheppard and WCMA curator Kevin Murphy have taught the biennial course Acquiring Art: Selecting and Purchasing Art for WCMA. In the class, students visit galleries and auction houses to locate works of art that align with the museum’s collecting priorities and have a predicted monetary value greater than their asking price. Students present their works to WCMA’s staff, and the museum purchases those deemed most impactful for the collection at the best price. The course is being offered in fall 2021. 

Eighty-two students have taken the course, and WCMA has purchased nine works of art. The objects proposed by students have greatly enhanced the inclusivity and diversity of WCMA’s collection. Along with these five works displayed in the McNicol Gallery in the fall of 2021, two others by Thomas Sills and Kay Walkingstick will be installed nearby after conservation work, and another work by Torkwase Dyson is installed upstairs in Remixing the Hall. 

The label text is drawn from the students’ proposals to provide insight into some of their reasons for why they believed WCMA should acquire the art works. 

Art acquisitions are made possible by the Fulkerson Fund for Leadership in the Arts, established by Allan W. Fulkerson ’54.


Hermann Fuechsel
b. Braunschweig, Duchy of Brunswick (present-day Germany)
d. 1915, New York, New York

Keene Valley, Adirondacks
Oil on canvas

Museum purchase, Fulkerson Fund for Leadership in the Arts

Keene Valley, Adirondacks is a depiction of an epic American landscape. Painted at the end of Reconstruction, it can be read as a meditation on the difficulties of national healing after the Civil War. The painting is in pristine condition despite its age, and retains its original frame, both of which make it a rare find in the market.

Dana Hogan ’16, Lillian Celestia Lancaster ’17, Kanishka Malik ’16, and Samantha Polsky ’17


Marie Spartali-Stillman
b. 1843, Middlesex, United Kingdom
d. 1927, London, United Kingdom

A May Feast in the House of Folco Portinari, 1274

Watercolor on paper mounted to panelMuseum purchase, Karl E. Weston Memorial Fund

Spartali-Stillman occupied a unique place in the art world as a female artist and intellectual amidst the male dominated and misogynistic culture of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in England, and the Cornish Art Colony in New Hampshire. She was a prolific artist who created some of the most imaginative work of the late Pre-Raphaelites.

Spencer Allyn ’20, Krista Gelev ’18, Kennedy Kim ’19, and Alex Zilkha ’20

Gordon Alexander Buchanan Parks
b. 1912, Fort Scott, Kansas
d. 2006, New York, New York

Willie Causey, Jr. with Shotgun During Alabama Violence
Ilfochrome print

Museum purchase, Otis Family Acquisition Trust

This photograph embodies what the Gordon Parks Foundation calls his “ability to honor intimate moments of daily life despite the undeniable weight of segregation and oppression.” Parks’s images of Alabama caused a stir throughout the United States after Life Magazine published them as A Segregation Story. The print is one of only three made by Parks himself, after the negative was thought to have been lost.

Jack Coyne ’19, Caroline Hogan ’18, Gene Hong ’20, Brendan Rosseau ’19, and Emma Santucci ’19


Bill Traylor
b. 1854, Benton, Alabama
d. 1947, Montgomery, Alabama

Bug [Boll Weevil]
c. 1939
Colored pencil on cardboard

Museum purchase, Otis Family Acquisition Trust

Trailer was born enslaved on a plantation in 
Alabama, and after Emancipation remained on the property as a sharecropper. In 1909, the boll weevil devastated crops in Alabama, forcing him and many tenant farmers off the land. Throughout the college there is a heightened level of interest in animal studies and posthumanism, motivated by the pressing issue of climate change forcing humans to interrogate our relationship with the natural world.

John Damstra MA ’20, Emily Ham ’22, Kevin Silverman ’20, and Hannah Trager ’20

Martín Ramírez
b. 1885, Jalisco, Mexico
d. 1960, Auburn, California

Untitled [Black and White 
Caballero No. 7]
c. 1950-1955
Graphite and tempera on paper

Museum purchase, Fulkerson Fund for Leadership in the Arts

Martín Ramírez is considered one of the 
self-taught masters of drawing in the 20th 
century, a symbol of the Mexican immigrant experience, and an inspiration for Latinx artists and writers in the United States. A cross-border artist who produced his work in a transnational, marginalized and institutionalized third space, Ramírez’s work features traditional subjects from his past as well as modernist elements.

Cooper Bramble ’20, William Cozadd ’21, Catherine Powell ’22, and Madeline Wessell ’20

News & Press

Yuchan Kim, WCMA displays purchased artworks requested by students in ‘Acquiring Art for the WCMA’ course, The Williams Record, May 4, 2022