Artist: Jan Talmadge Davids
Exhibition: To hold a letter to the light
Media: Ceramics Installation
Gallery: Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
Unfortunately, I didnt get the chance to speak to Davids, herself, so much of the information I got was from her close colleage and friend.Jan Talmadge Davids is a senior in the School of Arts Ceramic program at Cal State Long Beach.She had been a business major a while back before she found herself in the arts program at CSULB. Davids is currently working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in the Fine arts for Ceramics as an undergraduate student.She is a local resident from Huntington Beach, California. Davids is a single mother with two children who are currently in college. Growing up, Davids has had secrets in her family where she didnt know what was actually going on around her. So, she created this exhibit to not only let her kids be aware of what was going on, but supposedly to also represent maybe what it felt like to be a person in a similar situation.
The artist’s installation was made using paperclay porcelain slip, underglaze, and strings.Each of the envelopes were pretty thick in size, some dull colored, and not very straight or flat, maybe signifying the wears and tears of the physical and figurative symbolisms. Her friend mentioned that Davids was hesitant to include very personal thoughts in this exhibit. Her art form, in this particular exhibit, had gradually evolved from lists, to thoughts, and finally to letters that are seen in the images above. It’s somewhat like keeping a diary or journal that one may write. The contents are for the user to vent or record events that had happened on a certain day. Emotions and thoughts are poured onto the pages, much like the contents of the hanging letters. One letter in particular had caught my eye. It was a close envelope, and in order to see the contens of those envelopes, viewers were provided with a flash light. When the flashlight shines on the envelope from the back, its contents are highlighted and now readable. For me, it seemed like a symbol in which the opened envelopes could stand for, would be something along the lines of thougts that could be more poitive in the sense that it wasnt “secretive” like the closed envelopes. The innotive approach to represent her thoughts amazes me. I took the installation to be a space of concious that past and current thoughts continually flow. Some forgotton, some remembered, thoughts and memories that are both negative and positive. If one were to stand in the middle of the room uninterupted by noise, I feel that one could feel a wide range of emotions. The kinds of emtions that could be felt would vary by person if they were to read each and everyone of those envelopes or letters. The crumpled papers were at the far right on the end of the room, were things that i believed to be a kind of symbolism of what some people would do to unpleasant thoughts- To shove them in a corner and to be hidden away or to beforgotton, or rather to be purposefully made insignifigant as one moves forward.
The letters in a way, remind me of peoe. In its contents, letters hold many significant things, such as thoughts and emotions. There are times when a person may want to say things, but may deem it unsettling to say in person. These letters relate to me in a way that is also personal. I had also grown up for most of my life, unknowing to what happened around me. I never thought I had a closed door to things that went on during my life, especially family issues- secrets never told to me until it smacked me in the face years later. Once I realized what the installation was about, the exhibit reminded me of what i did to my own thoughts. Just like the installation, some thoughts still float around, reminding me of certain events. Others thoughts, like the crumpled ceramic pieces on the floor, were thrown in the corner to be forgotten, but still lingers no matter what I do.