A Tree of Life

The vivid, swirling red bark pattern on the cover of “The Tree of My Mind” by Emna Zghal immediately caught my eye. And the cover art is fitting, not only for the title, but for the content, which the Women’s Studio Workshop states “explores connections trees have with words and meanings.”

The cover of “The Tree of My Mind” by Emna Zghal, taken from the WSW site.

Though this book doesn’t appear to depart from the norm very much, at least not compared to some of the other books listed on the website, the striking colors and intriguing concept drew me in; the metacommentary of the presence of trees within words and meanings, while written on a surface that was once a tree, is just stunning to me. And stunning, too, are the illustrations inside.

Images of the inside pages taken from the WSW site displaying the vibrant illustrations and quotes.

Though naturalistic, all images relating to trees, they all seem to convey something very human, beyond the image of the face in the veins of a leaf; many of the patterns remind me of the biological connections within all of us, patterns of cells and veins and organs.

In terms of the written content, everything relates to trees in some way, but all of the excerpts, the bits and pieces, are pulled from a wide range of different sources. The description on the website describes them as “ranging from Qur’an to poetry, French chansons and more.”

The images, coupled with the quotes and excerpts, create an elegant picture of the tree as it is connected to literature, to words and meanings, and to us as human beings.

Work Cited

Zghal, Emna. “The Tree of My Mind.” Women’s Studio Workshop, 2006, https://wsworkshop.org/collection/the-tree-of-my-mind/.

3 thoughts on “A Tree of Life”

  1. Wow, those illustrations are incredible. I love the way they take up so much of the page, and then seem to extend past it, too. They remind me of the bigness of trees and the way you can never seem to see a whole tree all at once. You see bits and pieces and then follow them around until you’ve seen as much of the tree as you want.

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  2. I think the “normal” layout of this book is significant, especially since most of the other books in the Women’s Studio Workshop have complicated reading designs. If the book is “exploring” the connections between trees and words, then emphasizing the regular page layout of the book, a book that’s fundamentally made from trees, might be the point of this book design.

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  3. I love this book because of how it integrates the “paper-ness” of the paper as it relates to the tree. It makes the book feel like it’s in conversation with all of life (relating back to the “Tree of Life” title). In this way, it is almost as if everything truly does exist to end up in a book. And the illustrations in this book are so incredible!

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