(Ed. As a part of our Interstitial March project, we’re doing profiles of a number of people behind the scenes here at the IAF. Next up is the Vice President of the IAF Executive Board and co-chair of the Fundraising Committee for Interfictions 2, Erin Underwood!)
Who are you, and what do you do?
I am Erin Underwood, and I joined the IAF in March of 2009. I live in Marblehead with my husband, two dachshunds, and a cat. I recently graduated from the Stonecoast MFA program in writing popular fiction. I am a fiction and screenplay writer, an art lover, and a senior administrative assistant at MIT. Although I have a full-time job, I love volunteering my time to support art, literature, and the writing community.
What first attracted you to the interstitial arts?
I really didn’t know much about interstitial art until a friend of mine was published in the first Interfictions anthology. In support of my friend’s work, I purchased the anthology and had my first interstitial experience. I was immediately impressed by how these writers defied traditional genres in order to create stories that were unique in every sense of the word. Shortly thereafter, I attended the interstitial arts panel at Readercon in Burlington, MA where I fell in love with interstitial writing.
It didn’t take long for my interest in interstitial listerature to branch out, enveloping all forms of interstitial art from paintings to sculpture, music, performance, etc. The inherent nature of interstitial art is to inspire unfettered creativity, and this was incredibly appealing to me as a writer. I began to more fully realize that the only boundaries that exist are the limitations within the mind of the artist.
Do you consider any of your own work to be interstitial? If so, how? What other interstitial work do you admire?
My current writing is not interstitial. Perhaps that will change as I have more time to experiment with my work and acquire more experience within my chosen art forms. In the meantime, I’m happy to be an interstitial art enthusiast with a deep appreciation for evocative, unique art that blurs the artistic boundaries as we know them today.
Perhaps it’s the budding historian in me, but I can’t resist looking at art of any kind without searching for the pieces that might have triggered each new artistic style. With interstitial art, I often feel as if I’m receiving a secret glimpse into the future of art history. Then again, I’m equally excited about unique, one of a kind pieces that stand against the onslaught of artistic trends that seem to be evolving at an exponential rate. The more I learn about interstitial art, the more I realize that what draws me to it is the mystery of its inspiration and the artistic possibilities that it may inspire in other artists.
Some of the art I most admire could easily fall into the category of interstitial art at the time of its creation. For instance, when James Joyce wrote Ulysses, he had a difficult time finding a publisher because his novel was so different from anything that had ever been written. It was interstitial and defied categorization. The importance of interstitial art can not be overstated. Without Ulysses, what direction would Western literature have taken? What of William Blake’s work or Picasso’s paintings? Again, these works now fit into genres of their own, but many of their pieces were interstitial at the time they were created.
We are a species that demands categories and boxes. So, with each new piece of interstitial art, we seek to ascribe to it as many known features as possible in order to quantify and classify what we’re observing. When the first rock ‘n roll song was performed, it was neither country music nor the blues. When the first blues song was played, it was neither gospel nor folk music. These genres started out as unique pieces of music that evolved into established artistic categories.
Today’s interstitial art in all of its forms is the inspiration for future artists, and I can’t wait to see what they create next.