Thursday, February 18, 2010




1 : having curves, turns, or windings
2 : lithe or fluid in action or movement

i regret having to put FLEXUOUS on the back burner and talk instead about its close relative, UNDULATING. the latter has such an amazing story attached, i don't think i can ignore it.

in my last year as an undergraduate student at rhode island college, i decided to pick up a minor in art history. this meant i had to cram a lot of art history classes into my final two semesters. in the fall of 2005 i took three different art histories held consecutively: 9am, 10am, 11am on monday, wednesday, and friday. in the same room.

the 9am slot of this trilogy was a very broad survey of renaissance to modern art. very broad. the adjunct professor was a japanese woman (i cannot remember her name even slightly) whose english was...fair. sometimes i couldn't understand what she was saying. she didn't really go into much detail about the greater social/political implications of the images—probably because we had to cover 400 years of art, and maybe also because she didn't have a good enough grasp on the language to coherently explain concepts.

one word that she knew and loved was undulating. she used this word all the time to describe movement, lines, shapes, etc. this was her favorite word. she would often repeat it twice in a sentence. i try to picture the moment she learned this english word and realized its versatility. i wonder if she made a conscious decision to stop trying to learn more adjectives to describe movement because undulating was so perfect.

the great thing about this was that her thick accent forced the word to come out as: underating

the lines in this painting are just underating, underating.

i remember purposefully using this word to describe images during our exams. i picture her reading my essays and nodding her head approvingly.

i wish i could remember her name. i think there was an "s" involved. that narrows it down. it is most likely forever lost in the FLEXUOUS caverns of my subconscious.


  1. I think this is the same professor I had! Did she use a little microphone and portable speaker? She was extremely soft spoken and petite, right? I could barely understand her as well. It was my very first art history course, and I remember writing my paper at the end of the semester about Joseph Kosuth's "One and Three Chairs". Which is funny because other than this piece, I don't really like conceptual art. I don't think i used the word undulating at all.

    Reading your recollection made me laugh. I can imagine her being very pleased with your use of undulating and graded accordingly. haha.

  2. yes. that must have been her. i am now remembering the personal audio system...