Week 4 – Meet Jan Talmadge Davids

Artist: Jan Talmadge Davids
Exhibition: To Hold a Letter to the Light
Media: Paperclay and Underglaze
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
Website: N/A
Instagram: N/A

Although Jan Davids was not present at her exhibit, I did come to find out a lot about her. Jan Davids is from Huntington Beach and has been practicing ceramics for 6-7 years now and is currently getting her bachelors in CSULB’s School of Art’s Ceramics Program.  She returned to school and changed her major because she started off as either an anthropology or business major before she realized her passion lied within the arts.

In her exhibit, Jan Davids used paperclay porcelain slip, underglaze and string.  Some of the letters that she wrote had the message written on the outside of the envelope, but others were hidden within the envelope and you had to use a flashlight to reveal the message.  She also had some letters that were crumpled up and thrown on the ground or tossed aside.

After asking a few questions, I was informed that Jan felt that a lot of things were withheld from her during her childhood and she felt that her family had kept a lot of secrets.  Since she has two kids, she never wanted them to feel left out and put in the dark, so she wrote down the profound moments that she remembered.  Some of these were her deepest and darkest secrets or just random thoughts she had, and she was hesitant at first because she wasn’t sure if they would make people uncomfortable, but in the end she just let it all out. All of her letters she shared were very intimate and private thoughts and the ones that she believed were more irrelevant were the letters that were crumpled and tossed aside.  The ones that needed light held up to it were deeper in thought and things a lot of people would feel uncomfortable asking about.

My favorite piece was the one about having a woman card.  Because it is election season, I found this piece funny because Donald Trump claimed Hillary Clinton uses her “woman card” to reel in more votes.  In this piece, Jan was claiming a “woman card” to compensate for whatever other people thought she was lacking in.  On the back of the letter, she included a drawing that I thought was interesting.  I think that this exhibit took a lot out of Jan Davids because sharing dark secrets is not an easy thing, so I admire her for this.


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