Week 4- Artist Conversation- Jan Talmadge Davids

It’s not a secret if you tell someone.

Exhibition Information

Artist: Jan Talmadge Davids
Exhibition: To Hold a Letter To The Light
Media: Ceramics, Installation
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery

About the Artist

Jan is an artist from Huntington Beach California. She is going back to school to get her BFA degree in ceramics. She is a middle-aged woman with a family. She has been involved in ceramics for 6-7 years. As a member of the School of Art, and more specifically, the Ceramics program, she has learned to control clay to use it in conveying her message.

Formal Analysis

Jan’s exhibition is a small room, dimly lit, with letters hanging from the ceiling. These letters are made of clay and hung from the ceiling with string. There are several lights hanging from the ceiling, and a selection of flashlights for the viewing to carry with them as they wander through the gallery. The letters are all white, mostly with black writing, however some have colorful writing. Some letters are open, while some stay sealed within their envelopes. The viewer is invited to touch these letter so as to read what they say. When lit from behind, one can make out the stories in the letters. A pile of letters is in the corner. The letters feel matte like paper, but heavy like porcelain.

Content Analysis

Jan’s exhibit depicts many letters with secrets, rarely spoken stories, and thoughts. It feels personal, like reading a diary. She seemed to be thinking of her childhood at times, and how things were very hidden from her. She also discusses being a woman, and the stereotypes thrust upon her for that. The letters resemble a memoir of her life experiences and profound moments. She has opened up her life to be looked at with a flashlight.

Synthesis / My Experience

This exhibit was profoundly exciting to me. I felt like I was given a personal tour of her life. I also felt like I was being nosy when I held the flashlight up to the envelopes to read what was inside. Her work seemed developed and well thought out. Perhaps it may inspire some digging up or of memories and memorabilia for me. I loved her ideas, and would be interested in exploring her art further.


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