For over 30 years, Thomas Lyon Mills has been the only non-archeologist with permission to explore and paint alone in the Italian catacombs. Mills has also received unique access to paint in Mithraeums, in the temple ruins of the unknown civilization at Gabii, in Etruscan tombs down hill-sides hidden in forests, and up in a mountainous Paleolithic cave. With his on-site work and the influence of his dreams, he returns to his studio to work on pieces often for years.
In the catacombs, miles of tunnels are so silent that he hears his own heartbeat. Skeletons embrace one another in tombs; paintings and carvings form a nascent visual language. Blind translucent spiders coexist with 10-inch phosphorescent mantises that glow with green light.
In addition Mills has thousands of drawings made in museums and ancient churches, underground archeological sites, and a "secret" forest wetland in the Adirondack mountains. The studio is where these images are essential aggregates to his work underground.
Most importantly he keeps a library of unconscious states, documenting his dreams for the past 45 years in bedside sketchbooks with narratives and drawings that are often startlingly prophetic. With all of this data he works for long stretches of time on his paintings, drawings, and prints, transforming them into one world where the visible and invisible coexist and time is no longer linear, but rather elastic, circular, and liminal.
"Like a mapmaker, I find that my paintings inevitably cross over into the unknown. This then, is my region—where the visible meets the invisible and where the seen pays a constant debt to the unseen."