Mills speaks about Catacombs works

Meka Al Taqi-Brown, Staff Reporter

Thomas Lyon Mills, an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design, gave a presentation Wednesday to explain an art exhibit inspired by the sacred catacombs of Rome, which already opened on Aug. 29th, at the Tarble Art Center.

Ancient Romans made the catacombs as caves were used as places for religious practices and burial sites.

He managed to attain special permission to visit these ancient sites to create the work of art, featured not only in his presentation, but in his exhibition as well.

Mills said he visited over 50 different catacombs; taking notes in all of them, along with sketches of some cave drawings he saw.

His presentation included a discussion about his experiences in the catacombs, and showing the viewers some of the art he had created while down there.

Mills explained while in the catacombs, he felt overwhelmed by the emotion he felt within the catacombs.

“There were unseen forces flooding toward me, “ Mills said. “I’m almost overwhelmed.”

These experiences helped him with his inspiration when creating his artwork.

When creating his work, he used different types of paint such as watercolor, acrylic, and oil paint. He also did sketches as well.

Mills spent a lot of time in the catacombs pursuing his passion.

“I would stay longer if I had the strength,” Mills said.

Some of the artwork included paintings of the caves that he sat in, ancient drawing and sculptures. He received some of his inspiration from looking into the caves and adding his personal touch to the paintings.

Nick Eckmayer, a junior with a bachelors’ in fine arts degree, said he had a feeling about Mills’ artwork even before he saw his work.

“I felt like before I even saw his pieces, they were going to be about his experiences and more about making the work itself,” Eckmayer said.

Scrolls that were seen inside of the catacombs inspired him and the drawings he created.

One student found him stepping out of his comfort zone an inspiration.

Cydne Garrett, a junior marketing major and a studio art minor, said she thought Mills experienced unique moments while visiting these ancient places.

“It was really interesting to me because he had a unique experience as an artist. Not many artists get to go into sacred places like the catacombs in Europe,” Garrett said. “That’s what makes his art work so different, and it is very rare that you will find artwork that is seen firsthand.”

The experiences he went through and explained helped the audience understand his work. Because he had different experiences while in the catacombs, he was able to convey these same experiences in his work.

He used different vibrant colors, while making his work look 3D in certain pieces.

Mills’ current exhibition is located in Tarble and will continue to be shown until Oct. 25.


Meka Al Taqi-Brown can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]