The artist Thomas Sgovio (1916–1997) created a series of drawings and paintings, which are now in the Hoover Archives at Stanford University, based on memories of his life as a prisoner in the Soviet Gulag.
Thomas Sgovio was a native of Buffalo, New York. After graduating from Buffalo Technical High School (Hutch Tech now), in 1935, he went to Russia to continue his art education. His studies at the Moscow Vsyekokhudojhnik Gallery of Fine Arts were abruptly ended in 1938 when Tom was arrested by the Soviet Secret Police and sent to the GULAG!
He spent 10 years in Kolyma, a concentration labor camp complex in Northern Siberia mining for gold. He then spent an additional 5 years in the timber regions of central Siberia.
After the death of Stalin, Thomas was released. He spent 5 years in Moscow working as a commercial artist and in 1960 finally succeeded in extricating himself and his mother from the U.S.S.R. Tom lived in Italy during which time he married and worked on diverse artistic projects. Tom and his wife returned to the United States in 1963.
His love for his native home of Buffalo, New York which he often despaired of ever seeing again, is reflected in his renderings of Buffalo landmarks, which were started immediately after his return.
Tom has been recognized with many awards in Western New York and has even written a book about his remarkable experiences and survival entitled "Dear America". He gave seminars and displayed his paintings, drawn from memory depicting the repression that he and millions of others suffered in the Soviet Union. This was his way of spreading the message of Freedom and Democracy.
(Thomas Sgovio died in his Mesa, Arizona home on July 3rd, 1997. He is survived by his wife, 2 sons and 1 daughter.)
(To purchase the book "Dear America" please scroll down to the bottom of this page. Now available in English or Italian)
The following video was made with drawings from Thomas Sgovio's memory about his experience in the Gulag.
Click the picture below to start video.
Click the picture below to watch a clip of Thomas Sgovio' s Buffalo Landmark Scenes. He has won many awards for his work in his hometown of Buffalo.