For years, we’ve been following Mike Stilkey‘s ever-growing collection of book art. Using disposed and discarded reading material, the Los Angeles-based artist crafts striking sculptures that breathe new life into overlooked stacks of old books.
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Stilkey’s one-of-a-kind creations range in scale, materializing as both table-top arrangements and monumental installations. While he often experiments with size, he always employs the same subject matter: “a melancholic and at times a whimsical cast of characters inhabiting ambiguous spaces and narratives of fantasy and fairy tales.”
Similarly, Stilkey relies on an unchanging mixture of materials to produce each piece, including ink, colored pencil, paint, and lacquer. Using these mediums, he paints along the spines of the books, which he acquires from nearby library branches. “I reuse books that have been discarded or that are going to be destroyed,” he tells My Modern Met. “There are several local libraries that I work with who donate large numbers of books to me, as they know I will give them a second life in my artwork.”
It isn’t just books, however, that these libraries offer Stilkey; they are also where he finds his artistic inspiration. “I find inspiration in everyday life,” he says. “I also really enjoy going to the library. I will gather twenty to thirty books, bring them home and peruse them. I’m always looking for something to spark my imagination.”
To find out if Stilkey’s sculptures will appear at a library, gallery, or other space near you, be sure to follow him on Instagram.
Browse through a collection of Mike Stilkey’s amazing stacked book sculptures.
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Mike Stilkey.
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