Browse the Collection by Medium

photography, works on paper, sculpture, painting

The GVSU Art Collection brings together artwork from both local and international artists as well as GVSU students and faculty. The collection includes a wide range of mediums (meaning the material from which an artwork is created). This webpage highlights artwork in the collection from four major categories: photography, works on paper, sculpture, and paintings. These categories are then broken down even further by both the the raw materials with which the artwork was made and the history of the art form.

To “browse by medium,” use the menu to the right (below on mobile devices) to jump to a specific a medium or simply scroll down.

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Photography has come a long way in its almost 200-year history from the camera developing from a plain box that took hours to create blurry images to the high-tech devices in today’s smartphones and digital cameras. When photography arrived in the United States in the early 19th century, it allowed ordinary people the ability to make and own images in a way that had previously only been available to the rich. Photographers suddenly became a part of the story of an emerging nation, documenting the country’s changing cultural and physical landscapes.

The GVSU Art Gallery has a wide range of photography in the collection including early tin-types, daguerreotypes and real photo postcards. It also includes more contemporary digital photography by local and international photographers exploring both color and black and white imagery.

Learn More About Photography from the Collection

Or read on for a preview of photography in the collection...


unknown artist, Daguerreotypes, circa 1860

Artist Unknown, Untitled (Portrait of Three Women), circa 1860. 2021.33.24

Early Photography

Photographic technology can be traced to the 16th century, but it wasn't until the early 1800s, with the refinement of light-sensitive materials, that the first photographs were created. Early forms of photography include Daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes.


Learn More About Early Photography

untitled photo of man with car

Linn Photo Finishing Co., Untitled (Man with Car), Date Unknown. 2021.33.1374

Film and Dry Plate Photography

Dry plate, or gelatin process photography, was developed in the late 1800s. This technological advancement made the production of photographs much faster and more readily available to the general public.


Learn More About Film and Dry Plate Photography

Platey by Patty Carroll

Patty Carroll, Platey, digital archival photograph, 2016, 2021.73.4

Contemporary Photography

The first consumer digital camera was marketed in the 1990s. Yet again, this new form of camera allowed for a faster turn-around than conventional methods would allow as photographers could now snap hundreds of images and see them instantly on a screen.

Learn More About Contemporary Photography

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Works on Paper

Paper is considered one of the most important inventions ever, helping to document and preserve information for thousands of years. The first creation of paper was documented in China during the Eastern Han period (25-220CE). It was made from pulp in paper mills similar to the process of how paper is made today. From its early creation, paper quickly became used as an artistic medium.

Work on paper is a broad phrase that indicates any artwork that uses paper as its main substrate. The term refers to all artworks that are created on paper as a medium, whether the paper is drawn on with pastels, pencils, ink or charcoal. Works on paper also include prints and collage. The GVSU Art Gallery collection is home to a wide range of works of art on paper, many of which are part of the general collection and are installed throughout our GVSU campus buildings. Additionally, over 3,000 works of art on paper are housed in our Print and Drawing Cabinet, a special sub-collection of artwork begun in 2001 with a donation from English-born, Dutch artist Cyril Lixenberg. This first gift included every print produced by Lixenberg over the course of his 40-year career.

Learn More About Works on Paper from the Collection

Or read on for a preview of photography in the collection...


Dong Yanzi, Polo Game In Tang Dynasty, ink on paper, 2002, 2002.308.1

Illustrations and Drawings

Humans have always been interested in image making by hand, from cave paintings dating as far back as 10,000 BCE to the work of renowned artists like Edgar Degas who helped make drawing a respected form of fine art. The GVSU collection of drawings includes a number of different mediums, including graphite, pastel, charcoal and ink as well as a number of different forms of illustrations like digital prints and collage.

Learn More About Illustrations and Drawings

engraving of circus performers

Dellas Henke, Recollection, engraving, 2013, 2015.89.3


Printmaking is a form of art that involves transferring images from a matrix, like wood, glass, or metal, onto another surface, like paper or fabric. Historically, the process of duplicating images can be traced back to the Sumerians who engraved designs and cuneiform inscriptions on cylinder seals in 3000 B.C.E. Early examples of printmaking can also be found in Han Dynasty China. Soon after its invention, printmaking became a popular form of art as it allowed images and text to be reproduced quickly and inexpensively. Printmaking allowed for quick dissemination of information through mass-produced items like posters, books, maps, and religious illustrations. While printmaking served many practical purposes, artists utilized printmaking techniques to create series of prints, offering more affordable options to their patrons.

Learn More About Printmaking

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Art on Campus

For more information about the artwork selection and installation process at the DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health or other buildings on campus, please contact Art Gallery Project Manager, Alison Christensen; [email protected].

University Art Collection

For questions related to any artwork in the University Art Collection, in storage or on view, please contact our Collections Manager, Nicole Webb; [email protected].


For questions about integrating artwork into curriculum, please contact our UX/Learning Manager, Amanda Rainey; [email protected].

Page last modified June 16, 2022