Thursday, September 06, 2007
The Book Painting of Mike Stilkey
The piece is titled When The Animals Rebel. It occupies a 16 X 44 foot wall and consists of thousands of books LA artist Mike Stilkey has accumulated over the last few years via thrift stores and yard sales.
"Using pen and ink and acrylics, Stilkey has painted the books’ spines to depict a scene where wild and domestic animals are, as he puts it, “taking back their land,” while humans with detached expressions continue their daily routines, seemingly oblivious to the animals’ presence." The books became his paper.
He is attracted to them “ sometimes by the title, or more the look of it, the antiqueness of it, or the wear and tear of it. Sometimes there’s a weird illustration. I’ve got these books and I’ll never read them, but I want them for some reason and I’ve never known why. And then I started drawing on them."
Stilkey turns the transformative power of books upside down. In Stilkey's world the text is silenced and the bindings become the conveyors of meaning. The spines and in some cases the covers become the canvas, with each book playing a unique role in the piece. The blurring of the traditional boundaries of the book infuses each of them with new meaning. They are altered books in the sense that they have been tampered with but they have also been built upon with each book playing its part in the overall meaning of the sculpture.
A work of art that smells like a used bookstore. This guy is my hero.
The piece was the Summer Window Installation at Rice University Art Gallery
P.S. - To that bookseller who was burning his books in Kansas City because he couldn't get rid of them. Pack them all up and send them to Stilkey so they can begin a new life.
Thanks to Houstonist for the lead