What exactly is fata morgana? Simply put, it’s a mirage. More specifically, it’s an unusual and complex form of mirage that is seen in a narrow band right above the horizon. These rapidly changing mirages significantly distort the object(s) which they are based on. Often times making the object completely unrecognizable.
Fata Morgana Press is the studio of Mary Clare Butler and Amy Leners. They embrace all forms of craft from the traditional to the experimental. This interdisciplinary practice allows Mary Clare and Amy to constantly shift their approach to traditional craft, making the outcomes unique and unexpected.
Come February 24, Fata Morgana Press will present their manipulation of vegetarian chili for our consumption at The Hashbrown Showdow: Spudnik’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Fair & Chili Cook Off! Or will it just appear to be vegetarian chili?
Read on to learn more about Fata Morgana Press in the second installment of our pre-Hashbrown interview series:
Spudnik Press: How did Fata Morgana come to be? What does Fata Morgana do?
Fata Morgana: Fata Morgana began when Mary Clare and Amy were finishing grad school at Columbia. While working in the papermaker’s garden together, they began to plan a future studio. When they saw the press listed for sale in Chicago, they jumped at the opportunity. Luckily and they were able to rent space in the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center alongside bike frame builders, woodworkers, puppet makers and other craftspeople. Since then, they’ve collaborated on papermaking and bookbinding workshops, broadsides, music packaging, and posters, in addition to producing their own work. Last year, Angela Davis Fegan joined the studio, where she prints the Lavendar Menace Poster Project and maintains an active studio practice.
SP: Where did the name come from?
FM: MC was reading The Yiddish Policemen’s Union when they were trying to think of names for the new venture and the phrase just kind of leapt out. Upon further investigation, the two discovered it was the term for a complex mirage named after an sorceress who used witchcraft to lure sailors to their deaths. They decided it was a fitting name for a studio run by women with an experimental approach to traditional craft.
SP: You’re a returning chef and you competed in our Printing Dash competitions over the summer. Do either of you play competative sports? Or strategy games?
FM: Hell no. Unless bowling counts. We just take chili very seriously.
SP: Last year’s chili was quite delicious. Will you be working from the same recipe or trying something new?
FM: We received some secret chiles from a friend so we’re working on a new recipe that incorporates those!
SP: What is the Chicago People’s Library?
FM: Right around the time Amy and Mary Clare were starting the studio, they met Courtney Bowles and Mark Strandquist; their People’s Library Project was featured in the Social Paper show curated by Jessica Cochran and Melissa Potter. While making paper from deaccessioned library books at the show, they got to talking to Sulzer Regional Library’s local history librarian, Julie Lynch. With Courtney and Mark’s blessing, they started a Chicago chapter of the People’s Library. They’ve held ten-ish workshops at the Sulzer and South Chicago branches of the Chicago Public Library, as well as the Chi Teen Lit Fest, where participants made paper, bound books, and recorded their experiences and memories of Chicago. The books were displayed at Sulzer with plans to circulate across the city.
SP: Many thanks Mary Clare and Amy! See ya at the Show Down!
The Hashbrown Show Down:
Spudnik’s Rootin Tootin’ Fair & Chili Cook-Off
Saturday, February 24, 2018