A collaboration between Mary Uthuppuru of Spring Leaf Press and Andrea Peterson of Hook Pottery Paper
A fable is a telling tale of possible events – a chance occurrence of unlikely characters. The outcome provides details of phenomena. As our world spins on its axis, eons flow by, creatures come into existence and pass into extinction. Our time on the planet has set many events into motion. As the planet heats, larger reoccurring storm surges become a regular pattern that can be traced from industrial development. This is a modern tale spurred by the extinction of the Xerces Blue butterfly. This butterfly was declared extinct in the 1940s due to loss of habitat from urban development.
This book is a two-year collaborative project between Mary Uthuppuru, Bloomington, IN and Andrea Peterson, LaPorte, IN, who share an intense respect for the environment. Other projects we have worked on stress the overlooked, the extinct, and the forgotten. Our latest collaboration “the butterfly, the flying fish and the hurricane” is a modern tale that mythologizes the reasons for climate changes that are causing immense storm surges from sea to land. This book takes us on the journey of forgotten beauty, with an underlying evil, through the lens of a butterfly that is currently known to be extinct. Can you imagine being the last of your kind? Your time spent would be searching for the forgotten, only to drift away after much despair. In many cultures, natural phenomena or disasters are rationalized and embellished as the actions of various entities hidden from sight. This book leans on that tradition adding a modern twist to address our current reality connecting past actions to the present.
When we collaborate, we typically discuss the project in person, over the phone, and scan sketchbook ideas to send as images. As with our steamroller print “Tiny” we met several times to work on drawings, ideas, layout, and finally to carve the block. When we neared our typical engagement process for this project, the pandemic set in and our attention shifted to our own loved ones and world issues. The content we were bringing about in our book, the interaction of humans and the natural world, was occurring right in front of us. This project was mailed back and forth as long scrolled drawings. Images were sent over email, and discussions of texture, mood, and color were especially meaningful. Trying to say exactly what you mean is sometimes hard for two visually minded artists. After figuring out a way to keep each family unit safe, we came together for a long weekend of nonstop printing in which the prints left for Mary’s studio in Bloomington. The next process of text inclusion and binding inspired another flurry of phone calls and emails. The text was silver foil stamped on each page to mimic the aquatic and ephemeral nature of our characters. A leather bound hard cover wraps the folded pages to simulate our story told in the style of classic tales. The book has been featured in the Guild of Book Workers Wild/Life (2020-21) exhibit and is displayed in several other venues.
The artist’s book “The butterfly, the Flying Fish and the Hurricane” is 12” x 12” x 1” thick when closed. The book is an accordion style that expands out to 24’ or can be displayed in an elliptical shape on a pedestal or table. The book is encased in a cloth covered clamshell box.