Press Release

Tiny Crystals And Microscopes Create Unique, Abstract Art

March 9, 2016 – by Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan alumnus Thomas Saunders imaged wine crystals using a high-powered microscope to create ‘Riesling Wine.’ His abstract artwork will be exhibited in Ohio Wesleyan’s Gallery 2001 and its Alumni Gallery from March 21 through Sept. 21. (Image courtesy of Thomas Saunders)

Ohio Wesleyan Graduate Thomas Saunders to Display ‘CRYSTAL SYNERGY’

DELAWARE, Ohio – If it’s true that art is science, then the T.H. Saunders collections of imaginative and eye-catching artwork represent science on steroids.

The 1966 Ohio Wesleyan University graduate creates unique art by growing and photographing microscopic crystal structures made from wine, coffee, and aspirin – and an endless array of materials whose basic chemical components can be extracted and isolated.

Saunders’ unique creations will be on display in two university galleries from March 21 through Sept. 21, with an illustrated artist talk scheduled for April 7. All events are free and open to the public.

Titled “Crystal Synergy: The Confluence of Science and Human Imagination,” Saunders’ one-man exhibit will be showcased in OWU’s Alumni Gallery, located inside Mowry Alumni Center, 16 Rowland Ave., Delaware, as well as in the nearby Gallery 2001, located within the university’s Beeghly Library, 43 Rowland Ave., Delaware. Both venues are satellite galleries of the Richard M. Ross Art Museum.

Saunders’ April 7 artist talk will begin at 4:10 p.m. in the library’s second-floor Bayley Room, with a community reception immediately following in Gallery 2001. Gallery 2001 hours vary daily and are available online at http://library.owu.edu. Alumni Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Saunders began working with crystal imaging as an experiment in 2001, utilizing medical and scientific research Zeiss microscopes.

His work has been described as “an advanced method of creating 21st century modern and abstract art” made possible by “blending the confluence of chemistry, the physics of light, sine wave manipulation, advanced technologies in printing, archival inks, sublimation processes, and finally, most importantly, the application of human imagination.”

Once he creates the crystals, Saunders places them on a microscope glass slide to carefully examine their intricate structures. He adjusts the light passing through them to create aesthetically appealing art using several proprietary techniques he created. His techniques, he explains, “extend beyond traditional cross polarization or differential interference contrast methods.”

The crystals used to generate this eye-catching art often are no larger than the head of a pin. After finalizing each image, Saunders captures it on high-resolution color film using either specialized cassettes built into his microscopes or utilizing a sophisticated digital camera designed exclusively for high-resolution, color-true microscopy imaging.

His final images are then sized and prepared for printing, typically on acid-free, archival cotton fiber paper, although his creations also have been produced on aluminum substrates, ceramic materials, and even clothing.

At Ohio Wesleyan, Saunders studied German and politics and government. Prior to moving to Florida and immersing himself in his art, he lived in the Washington, D.C., area for 35 years, establishing his own firm to advise in global business development. During his career, Saunders also has held executive and board positions with major corporations and business start-ups as well as serving in domestic and overseas U.S Congressional, Executive Branch, and White House appointments.

Justin Kronewetter, director of OWU’s Ross Art Museum, said Saunders’ two-gallery exhibit will include 40 of his artworks – all created as part of a limited edition Ohio Wesleyan series in recognition of his 50-year class reunion.

“Tom’s pieces are incredibly interesting,” Kronewetter said. “He captures and shares images of a world we can’t see with the naked eye – a world most of us would never see otherwise. We are pleased to share his ‘Crystal Synergy’ as he returns to campus and reunites with his classmates.”

Learn more about Saunders and his artwork online at www.innervisionartwork.com/art_saunders.html and www.unleashed-visions.com.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers 87 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world experience. OWU’s 1,675 students represent 43 U.S. states and territories and 33 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.