Week 4: Artist Jan Talmadge Davids

Exhibition Information

Artist: Jan Talmadge Davids
Exhibition: BFA Show
Media: Paperclay porcelain slip, Underglaze, String
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
Website: N/A
Instagram: Jantalmadgedavids

About the Artist

A little bit about Jan Talmadge Davids is that she is in her 40s, and from Huntington Beach. She did not originally start school with art, in fact, she actually started school studying Anthropology/Business. Jan has been doing art for 6 to 7 years. Sadly, when we visited the art galleries, Jan was taking a mold making class, so we were unable to meet her. Luckily, a friend of hers was able to answer a few of our questions. She is currently in her senior year, trying to get her BFA degree for Ceramics, so she is currently in the Ceramics Program here at CSULB. Jan felt that there were a lot of secrets kept in her family. She wanted to document these secrets for her children in case she ever passed away.

Formal Analysis

The letters and envelopes made in Jan’s artwork were not perfect, straight-cut pieces. They were jagged, ripped, and imperfect in their own unique ways. This jaggedness made all of the pieces seem real, and not just cookie-cutter shaped. All of the letters and envelopes were the same off-white type of color. The ink on these letters and envelopes on the other hand, varied in color. Some were written with black ink, some with blue, and so on. There were no set shapes, nor was there a set theme in what she wrote. She simply wrote all of her thoughts and experiences on these letters and envelopes. It was a very simplistic piece with a lot of depth, when read. Because Jan used paper clay porcelain slip and an underglaze, the texture was quite smooth.

Content Analysis

This piece included many letters that were intimate and profound moments that Jan remembers. They were also full of personal thoughts, and had a lot of things that she kept to herself. I thought this was a very interesting way to express it. Most of the moments that she had written about were key moments in her life, things that have happened in the past for her. Things written within the envelopes held the most deep information. In one of the pieces, she talks about how Donald Trump called Hilary used the female card to get votes, in another  related piece, she talked about how she wants to use her woman card that day. These pieces consisted of her personal thoughts, kind of like a personal monologue.

Synthesis/My Experience

When I entered this gallery, I was instantly intrigued. My curiosity flew through the roof, wanting to know what was hanging from the ceiling. When I first held an envelope, I was surprised to find out that it was hard. The concept of holding a flashlight behind these envelopes, or even just holding it up to the light from the ceiling was very fascinating. It reminded me of when I was in middle school because I used to try to look at my report cards in the light, unable to open them unless my mom came home. Reading what the actual letters and envelopes said, my heart was broken. Especially the letter about how the father died 3 days ago and the mother was just telling her. I was deeply saddened by a lot of the hanging letters. I felt like I was really inside Jan’s head, reading all of her thoughts when I was inside of this gallery. It was a very interesting way to portray one’s personal thoughts and experience. Although I was left heartbroken, I was still extraordinarily amazing. She talked about very intimate thoughts, which in my opinion, is very brave of someone to do.

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