Week 5 – Artist Conversation – Jan Talmadge Davids

Exhibition Information

 Artist: Jan Talmadge Davids

Exhibition: To Hold a Letter to the Light

Media: Ceramics, Paper-clay porcelain slip

Gallery: Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery

Instagram: jantalmadgedavids

About the Artist

Jan Talmadge Davids is an undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach. She is currently a senior and getting her BFA in Ceramics. She started off as a different major and switched to ceramics. She was from Arizona and moved to Huntington Beach to pursue her true passion of being an artist. What I found interested the most was that her experiences as a child helped her create this piece where secrets were exposed to everyone.

Formal Analysis

To Hold a Letter to the Light is a piece where it will make you feel in awe with the ambiance of the gallery once you walked in. The lights were dimmed and letters were hanging from the ceilings. The hanging ceramics were made to represent letters and others, an envelope. The papers differ in shape – from straight to wavy to crumpled. The letters were written in blank ink, and it seemed to be one of those gel-ink type of pen. Also, some of the papers seemed to have that texture where it got wet, it dried and formed a stain. The papers were hanging from the ceiling using some type of thin rope and the paper was attached using wooden hanging clip.

Content Analysis

Jan’s ideas that were used in creating this piece were her childhood memories where truths were hidden from her. Her idea is to be transparent and honest as possible without hiding any secrets. From afar, all of the papers hanging from the ceiling look the same; however, the closer you get and see the actual content in it, it’s different. Jan tried to connect her viewers to her personal life by putting her real life experience on each paper. I guess you can say that the papers hanging from the ceiling were pages from her diary that she kept all her life, and she is now willing to expose every secrets she has. You can feel the emotions she felt while she wrote this because of the descriptive words she used.

My Experience


My experience with this exhibition was very interesting. I felt that the moment I walked in the gallery, I was inside someone’s head reading everything she thought about. Feeling raw-emotions as I read the letters made me feel that everyone has a story that he or she never tell. But for Jan, she was brave enough to expose her secrets in an artistic way for everyone to see.


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