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Irene Mitkus

Independent bookbinder, conservator, and artist, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Book of Sacred Trees

Book of Sacred Trees.
Unique Artist's Book. Birch bark, concertina binding, laser print, linocuts on Gasen Cedar paper.
On loan from David Harvey.

This project started. . . in the summer of 1998 when Max Yela invited me to use the UWM Library and Special Collections resources to create a work of art. The suggestion was made that I use the topic of multiculturalism. Being of East European extraction, I have always been aware of the veneration of the oak tree, going back to pre-Christian times. So I knew that most cultures have a special tree that has been held sacred. The mythology that I found concerning the sacred tree was vast and overwhelming. In order to create an artist’s book, I had to do some paring down and chose those trees and their myths that struck me visually and spiritually.

During the time that I started the actual work on the book, I became gravely ill, but have managed to finish the project with the kind help of my friend, Ney Tait Fraser. It has been a pleasure to see the parts all come together to form an artist’s book.

Curator’s note: Irene Mitkus, who died in November 2000 after a battle with cancer, was a much beloved and respected figure in the Milwaukee-area arts, conservation, and library communities. Book of Sacred Trees was her last work. The Shape and Color of Research Project is dedicated to her memory.