Oral History Interview with Thomas (Tom) Lyon Mills, May 5, 2008

Oral History Interview with Thomas (Tom) Lyon Mills, May 5, 2008


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Interview of Thomas (Tom) Lyon Mills, conducted by Andrew Martinez in Mills' home and studio in Providence, RI on May 5, 2008 for European Honors Program (EHP) documentation. Mills speaks of his time as a chief critic for RISD's European Honors Program in Rome and his relationship with director Ezio Genovesi. Mills also recalls the different locations in Rome he visited with students and tells stories about their experiences. Along with this, Mills shows his paintings and discusses working in isolated spaces like the Catacombs in Rome.

Biographical/Historical Note

Thomas Lyon Mills is a painter and Professor Emeritus of Drawing at the Rhode Island School of Design in the Department of Experimental and Foundation Studies where he has worked since 1986. From 1989-1991 Mills served as the Chief Critic for RISD’s European Honors Program in Rome, Italy. Mills is the only non-archaeologist permitted to work and explore alone in the Italian catacombs and mithraeums where he paints.

Mills is interviewed by Andrew Martinez, Archivist at the Rhode Island School of Design, in 2008 for a documentary on RISD’s European Honors Program. Produced by Peter O'Neill and Andrew Martinez. Made possible in part through a gift from William Whelan and family in memory of John Whelan, RISD Class of 1937.

Oral History Interview with Thomas (Tom) Lyon Mills, May 5, 2008



Date of Interview



Andrew Martinez


Thomas (Tom) Lyon Mills


Experimental and Foundation Studies, European Honors Program

Run Time

117 min.

Original Format(s)



European Honors Program (EHP), Rome, Italy, Foundation Studies, sketchbook, Drawing, Hardu Keck, dreaming, Catacombs, Ezio Genovesi, Caravaggio, Cenci, David Frazer, American Academy, David Hammons, Gil Franklin, Piero della Francesca, Painting, Adirondack Mountains, Villa Giulia