Faculty Response:
Reverse Alchemy Series For the Reverse Alchemy Series, I create self-contained but disorienting stories that imaginatively questions themes in human experience by layering spaces, perspectives, objects, and moments of time and history. A recurring young character is the "witness" to the events in each scene in which I attempt to evoke unexpected memories percolating up from some deep well of experience, but connected to contemporary questions. Alchemy was historically concerned with the transformation of base matter into something precious. The alchemy concept refers to my interest in this ongoing transformation of the photogenic medium (from analog to digital or vice-versa), as well as the transformation of the photogenic medium of art making and practice. The reverse aspect in the title alludes, albeit ironically, to what the work is ultimately about: the ways in which contemporary society/culture can sometimes transform the precious into the base- with devastating consequences- and the concurrent human struggle to note and resist that degradation.  Artist Process My working process as an artist is a combination of complex steps that I have been developing for several years, which combines contemporary and emerging digital techniques with historic analog techniques in both photography and printmaking to make original artworks. There is an interesting anachronism in printing digitally composited images using a print process first developed in the late 1880's.  Rather than "straight" captures of scenes ("taking pictures"), the final images are composites of: photographs made by me using a variety of digital and analog techniques over several decades; found or researched public-domain imagery, including pieces from 19th century glass-plate negatives from the Library of Congress; and objects that I construct and them photograph of scan. I combine multiple photographs digitally to make the composite scenes, print the scenes on transparency file as positives, use the films to expose and develop the polymer photogravure plates, and then print the gravure plates in a printmaking studio as intaglio prints (ink on paper, like na etching). The visual quality of the final prints is more tactile than a contemporary inkjet print, and because of the hand-process, no two prints are exactly the same. As part of my sabbatical project, I also conducted experiments to develop a technique of printing a black gravure image in ink over the color channels of an inkjet print on uncoated printmaking paper. Experiments in this direction continue.
Current Location:
Daniel and Pamella DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health -> 5th Floor (DCIH)
Location Notes:
DCIH; 5th Floor; Left of Room 550


Anthony W. Thompson
GVSU Collection
Photogravure Print with Chine Collé
Artworks - Height: 11" Width: 13.5"
Black and white photographic image of three bee hives sitting on a wall, larger beehive in the background. Child in a bee suit is behind the wall. Bees with masks flying around.
Historical Context:
In this piece from his series, “Reverse Alchemy,” Anthony W. Thompson seeks to create disorienting stories that question themes of the human experience by layering spaces, perspectives, objects, and moments of time and history. A recurring young character is used as the "witness" to the events in each scene he creates; asking the viewer to reach into their memories and experiences.