The campus community is saddened to learn that Professor Emeritus Tom Sgouros 50 IL, who taught at RISD from 1962–2007, passed away in Providence on Monday, December 19 after a long struggle against cancer. He was 85.
A gifted artist with work in the RISD Museum, Tom repeatedly served as head of the Illustration department (from 1969–70,1971–77, 1979–83 and 1984–1991), was chair of the Design Division from 1971–78 and from 1991–94 served as RISD’s first ever Helen M. Danforth Distinguished Professor.
Although Tom suffered from macular degeneration in recent years, he continued to work in his Providence Art Club studio almost every day. His ongoing series of breathtakingly beautiful Remembered Landscapes (like the ones shown above and below) made his escalating loss of sight that much more poignant.
Current Head of Illustration Robert Brinkerhoff notes that when he first met Tom 16 years ago, he “was immediately disarmed by his gentle and self-effacing manner…. Like everyone, I continued to be touched by his kindness, his gracious intellect in guiding a conversation and his unwavering dedication to art-making….”
Rob also points out that the Illustration program continues to feel Tom’s positive influence: “Our truly unique grounding in drawing and painting from observation coupled with an assertion that the individual voice of the illustrator is key to the synthesis of the poetic and pragmatic is largely due to his considerable insights as the program’s leader for so many years.”
A memorial service for Tom is being held on Sunday, December 23 at 2 pm at the Unitarian Church, One Benevolent Street in Providence, followed by a reception at the Providence Art Club. The Illustration department is planning a memorial on campus this spring. More information will be forthcoming as that event takes shape.
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