Project Synopsis

As participants in a project such as this, we know that it is process that will lead us to gold, to transformations that reveal new understandings of our works and ourselves. The “Aha!” moment for many ALCHEMY artists and writers was the Jungian idea that we are the vessels through which alchemy takes place.


Paul Mergen, Water Pendant

We narrowed our focus to three alchemical areas: alchemy as precursor to modern chemistry, Carl Jung’s treatise on the transformative self, and the four alchemical colors: nigredo, albedo, citrinitas, and rubedo.

Jung believed artists and poets were fluent in tapping into the unknown realms of the unconscious and transforming those revelations into material form. This process involves the union of opposites and explains why artists of all disciplines engage both the sublime and the profane, within and without, as they seek truth and, ultimately, wholeness.

Sharon Sargent Eckstein, Formidable Mentor

Dr. Steve Bertman, introduced enantiomers, non-superimposable mirror images: left hand/right hand, inside/outside, memory of the event / the actual event—dualities inherent in both chemistry and alchemy. How one thing in relationship to another may create metaphor can occupy the imagination.
Deborah Mattson, Alchemy

Alchemical colors address process. The colors speak of phases. Nigredo (blackish) is a stage enveloped in chaos and/or disheartenment. Albedo(whitish) in Leonard Cohen’s words, accounts for “…. a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. That gets our attention and we turn with greater intention in the citrinitas phase, to what may lie at the end of the rainbow. If and when the work takes on a life of its own, Rubedo(reddish) or transformation has been achieved.

Elizabeth King, Sunflower House, “The seed is in the flower, as the flower is in the seed.”

Artists and writers come from the Kalamazoo area. They may be established and with a following, or emerging and little known. Through outreach into our exceptional Kalamazoo creative community, our 50+ participants hail from numerous locations and some are affiliated with Kalamazoo through many non-profit organizations.

It is one of our goals to bring awareness to non-profits in Kalamazoo by conducting meetings, workshops, and readings at varied locations, including artist’s studios.

Sydnee Peters, Project Director
Elizabeth Kerlikowske, President of Friends of Poetry and Co-Director



ALCHEMY: An Artists and Writers Initiative          February 15 – May 26
Netzorg & Kerr Gallery, Richmond Center for Visual Arts


Passages: HOURS     HOME     ALCHEMY          April 27 – May 26
An exhibit of broadsides from the three related projects     
Monroe-Brown Gallery, Richmond Center for Visual Arts
Opening Reception: April 30th, Sunday, 3-5

ALCHEMY: An Artists and Writers Initiative     August 11 (the Opening) – September 23
The Box Factory, Saint Joseph, Michigan


Five reading events in non-profit venues during the exhibition dates with variable content in each event.

February 23rd, 6:30, Kalamazoo Institute of Art
Echolocation: Denise Miller and her musicians Jonathan Boyd, Abbie Maikoski, Anne Rhode, and selected readers from ALCHEMY will create an evening of poetry and music inspired by the visual improvisations of Wadada Leo Smith. The performers will build the event with a call and response performance using works of submitted writing. Field Trip to the KIA Thursday, January 12th at 6:30 pm to view Wadada Leo Smith’s exhibit.

March 16, Thursday, 6:30-8, Richmond Center for Visual Arts
Suite of Dialogues: Arnie and Debby Johnston will oversee this.

April 20, Thursday, 6:30, Kalamazoo Institute of Art
Suite of Monologues: Elizabeth Kerlikowske will oversee this.

May 9, 6:30, Kalamazoo Public Library
Friends of Poetry Presents ALCHEMY

May 25, 6:30 Richmond Center for Visual Arts
Suite broadsides from the projects HOURSHOME, and ALCHEMY will be in exhibition in the Monroe-Brown Gallery. A reading of all Suites will take place on May 25th. Stay tuned for further details about when the exhibit opens. 


ALCHEMY: An Artist’s and Writer’s Initiative
Original works by artists and writers in the Initiative.



Broadsides: collaboration between artists and writers to create editions. There are 13 broadsides in the ALCHEMY Suite of prints.


With the help from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, we offered a variety of process-oriented-workshops to ALCHEMY participants in 2016. The idea behind the workshops was to generate discourse around the theme, as well bring together a community of individuals who normally work solo in their studios. Many of us know one another only through our works. The cross-fertilization of writers and artists was filled with surprises, rewards, and opportunities.

Supporting local non-profits with grant money by holding our workshops in those venues has a symbiotic quality to the overall theme of these projects – creating links through the diversity of participants and to the greater Kalamazoo Community. Besides workshops, participants had the opportunity to view and study related manuscripts at WMU’s Special Collections and Rare Book room and A.M. Todd Rare Book Room at Kalamazoo College.

Kalamazoo Institute of Art, Form & Surface, led by Vicki VanAmeyden and Honore Lee

We pinpointed individuals in the Kalamazoo community to discuss their practice in respect to it’s connect to alchemy. Some of the workshops were discussion based, others were practice based, most included a writing prompt given by one of the project writers. 

Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, Broadside workshop with Jeff Abshear, Director

ALCHEMY (AL) Participants
For more details on our participants as well, their websites: Bios

Mindi Bagnall – AL artist, consultant; Exhibitions Registrar, Curator, University Art Collection, RCVA, WMU
Dr. Steve Bertman – AL Workshop facilitator; WMU Chemistry Professor
Marion Boyer – AL author, poet
Mary Brodbeck – AL woodblock artist, filmmaker
Autumn Brown – ALWorkshop facilitator; medal artist, WMU educator
Bonnie Jo Campbell – AL author, poet, WMU educator
Sue Caulfield – AL printmaker, KIA educator, WMU Holistic Health Professor
Margaret DeRitter – AL Chief Editor of the book, workshop prompter; poet, journalist, WMU educator
Michael Dunn – AL Workshop facilitator; artist, architect
Kimberly Eberstein – AL artist, educator
Sharon Eckstein – AL editor; painter, illustrator, Jungian therapist
Morry Edwards PHD – AL poet, author, hospice therapist
Debbie Eisenbise – AL Workshop facilitator; poet, pastor
Heidi Fidler – AL poet, massage therapist
Deborah Gang – AL poet, Vice President FOP
Donna Groot – AL painter
Hedy Habra – AL Workshop facilitator; poet, author, artist, WMU educator
Maryellen Hains – AL solicitor of other venues; enamel, jeweler, professor emeritus WMU
Ladislav Hanka – AL printmaker, book arts, author
Jana Hanka – AL Workshop facilitator; sculptor
Tamara Hirzel – AL printmaker, KIA educator
Anna Ill – AL Workshop facilitator; ceramicist, pre K-12 educator
Michelle Johnson – AL poet, co-founder of FIRE
Arnie Johnston – AL Workshop facilitator, Book editor, Reading facilitator; author, professor emeritus WMU
Debby Johnston – AL Workshop facilitator, Reading facilitator; author, former principal @ Maple St. Magnet Middle
Elizabeth Kerlikowske – AL Co-Director, Workshop facilitator, Reading facilitator, Book editor; author, President/FOP
Elizabeth King – AL project consultant, Workshop facilitator; artist, graphic designer,
Allison Lee – AL poet, photographer
Honore Lee – AL Workshop facilitator; artist, KVCC educator
Dave Marlatt – AL poet, author
Gail Martin – AL poet, author, Jungian therapist
Deborah Mattson – AL printmaker
Kathleen McGookey – AL editor, poet
Paul Mergen – AL Workshop facilitator; metals, professor emeritus WMU
Marsha Meyer – AL poet, librarian
Denise Miller – AL Reading facilitator; author, co-founder of FIRE, KVCC professor
Paul Nehring –AL Workshop facilitator; AL artist, WMU educator
Amy Newday – AL poet, Kalamazoo College educator
Lynn Pattison – AL poet
Austin Peters – AL branding , Book layout, design; artist, musician, graphics
Sydnee Peters – AL Project Director, Workshop facilitator, Book design, production, Admin web; artist, writer, WMU educator, AP Reader & Reviewer
Katie Platte – AL artist, printmaker, Studio Manager + educator at Kalamazoo Book Arts
Robert Post – AL Workshop prompter; author, KVCC professor
Susan Ramsey – AL Workshop prompter; author
Billy Reynolds – AL Workshop prompter; poet, Dean: KVCC
Linda Rzoska – AL Admin web, Workshop facilitator, Book production, design; printmaker, Director: Ninth Wave Studio, Professor Emeritus – KVCC
Elaine Marie Seaman – AL poet, quilter
Julie Stotz-Ghosh – AL poet
Vicki VanAmeyden – AL Workshop facilitator, Suite Coordinator; printmaker, poet, , KIA educator
Mary Whalen – AL photographer; photographer, KIA educator

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