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I’m not quite sure how the word and the concept of ‘interstitial’ has come to the forefront of my consciousness since last week.  Perhaps it showed up in the interstices of my mind during one of my chanting meditations. Or perhaps it was in something I read. In any case, the word concept has captured my imagination.

Merriam-Webster Online says Interstitial means “occurring in or being in an interval or intervening space or segment; of, relating to, or forming an interstice” and Interstice means  “a space that intervenes between things, especially between closely spaced things, a gap between or a break in something generally continuous, a short space of time between events”.

I’ve been thinking of interstitial in connection with visual imagery and it brings up images of patterns and interstitial sub patterns in William Morris’ wallpaper (I saw some originals of these exquisite papers in an exhibit while on a trip to Iceland in August); or perhaps the interstices in the folds of drapery studies by Da Vinci; or the interstitial lengths of a mountainside in nature. 

I realize that most of these are spatial but the interstitial, as the dictionary definition reminds, is also found in time intervals. The interstices of silence between the heavenly choir music by KIng’s College in Cambridge, England, and the interstices of movement  in the mystical chants of 11th century nun, Hildegard of Bingen both of which I heard last week come to mind.

Interstitial also shows up as an important word in science and medicine. Interstitial cells, I understand, are found in reproductive organs – ovaries and testes – and a family of types of ICC (Interstitial Cells of Cajal) are part of gastro-intestinal muscles. These cells, named in honor of Spanish Nobel Laureate Santiago Ramon Y Cajal who first identified their existence, connect to an interesting thread of art-science. (I first encountered his work while reading a book – Sam Kean’s The Art of the Dueling Neurosurgeons – and viewing an exhibit at the University of Minnesota Weisman Art Museum that included his incredibly exquisite neural drawings for which he is recognized as a master artist as well as scientist).

Along with continued observations of the interstitial I’ve started drawing to explore the concept. Will post in upcoming blogposts about what I discover – stay tuned!




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