Founded in 1989, Etchings Literary and Fine Arts Magazine set out to revitalize The University of Indianapolis’ first literary magazine ‘Tusitala’. According to former English teacher Alice Friman before her time at the University of Indianapolis, starting in 1971, there was nothing on campus to engage students in creative writing. Although she didn’t have a direct hand in the start of Etchings she feels as though she was able to lay the foundation for creativity here on campus when she began teaching creative writing, she said.
“The creative writing classes went so well that in the mid—1980s I started a poetry contest to be judged always by an outside judge. On May first of every year, I put on an in-house poetry festival where the winners would read their works,” Friman said. “Since the festival was on May first, May Day, I built a maypole decorated with ribbons and flowers for the occasion.”
Friman said that all of the credit for the creation of Etchings has to go to the magazine’s first advisors Anne Marie Drew and Former English Department chair Bruce Gentry. According to Gentry, a Shakespeare specialist began discussing how the school needed a literary magazine and after looking into it, it was discovered that there had been one in previous years but it had suspended print.
“We looked into it and found that there had been one [Tustitala] and it had suspended publications a few years before we got there,” Gentry said. “We knew that there was plenty of interest in having a literary magazine because Alice Friman was doing the poetry contest and there was a creative writing class once in a while”
According to Gentry, the interest in Etchings quickly grew and there was always at least one student every year who would step up to become the editor. But originally, there wasn’t much of a budget for the magazine and a few things had to be done by hand, said Gentry.
“I do remember going down into the copy room in the basement of whatever the building the English department was [in] and assembling the pages for the magazine, and putting them over a little holder so that I could push a button and it would staple the pages together,” Gentry said. “We were actually hand assembling it. And that was because we were trying to save money.”
Gentry said he was pleased with the results and loved that they made something new and improved for the students and the department. Everyone should be working to promote the arts and literature in schools, it’s central to the mission Gentry said.
English teacher and current advisor of Etchings Liz Whiteacre said Etchings serves as a reminder of the rich history that is on campus. Not only that, it also serves as a way to showcase the talents of those, who are current students or alumni, that are involved with fine arts or literature. According to Whitacre, changes in recent years have made it possible for different types of literary and other creative works to be shared through the magazine’s website.
“A few years back we added musical compositions to the website, I feel like it was about 2018. [In] 2019 we redesigned our website to have the capability of being able to offer audio,” Whiteacre said. “…We were able to add music as a category in the magazine, so [that] students writing songs are able to submit their work so that they can have sheet music or lyrics published in the magazine, but we can [also] point them to the website to be able to listen to recordings. And spoken word also became a category that we could invite and accommodate. So that’s been an exciting development in recent years.”
Whiteacre said everyone is encouraged to submit to the magazine, and the editors love to hear from new voices and see new types of work. According to Whiteacre, to celebrate the milestone of 35 years Etchings will be inviting back past advisers to work on issues 35.1 and 35.2 of the magazine. Their biannual launch parties will be in December and April. To keep up to date with events and contests Etchings is holding, you can follow them on all social media @Uindyetchings.