Artist: Jan Talmadge Davids
Exhibition: To Hold A Letter To The Light
Media: Ceramics, Underglaze
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
About the Artist
Jan Talmadge Davids is an Undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach and is working towards her BFA degree in the School of Art’s Ceramics Program. She began her education at Sattleback City College. The local artist is from Huntington Beach. Her art focuses on ceramics, which she has been involved in for approximately six years.
To Hold a Letter To The Light was a ceramic project which included paperclay porcelain slip, underglaze and string. There were many ceramic letters and envelopes with writing on them, each of which hung from the ceiling on string attached by clothespins. As you held a flashlight to a sealed envelope, you were able to see the writing that was enclosed. In the corner of the gallery there were a few ceramic crumpled pages which also had a message hidden inside them.
By reading each individual letter and sealed envelope that hangs from the ceiling, we the audience can see that the messages, experiences or memories are intimate. It is evident that Jan Talmadge Davids creatively used her experiences and emotions to put together a story of her life. By the specific information that is given, we can see that she is focusing on the difficult moments that she encountered in her adulthood. After speaking with a friend of the artist, I learned that this exhibition was also intended to be a learning experience for others but mostly her daughter. She used her own experiences so that others can learn from them. Using real events must have taken courage but it created a beautiful piece.
From the very beginning I was intrigued by the creativity that filled the gallery. The way the ceramic papers and envelopes hung from the ceiling attached to strings by clothespins immediately caught my attention. The first letter I had read was deep, intimate and interesting. Every letter held a different message but I knew it was personal. It was relatable. I began to think of all the letters I had written but never mailed, every text I typed out but never sent and all the pages in my journal that were never seen. My writing was an escape and although it was not created for anyone but myself, I understood how putting thoughts on paper could make an impact. Our experiences do help us and sometimes others.