Art Matters: Meet Jan Langdon
About the interviews: The Richmond Art Center is fortunate and proud to work with a diverse and growing number of artists and teachers who work with our students at the Art Center as well as in our local communities. We want to share some of these wonderful people with you, to inspire your own artistic path, take a class, or learn more. See all of our interviews here.
In this interview, meet Jan Langdon, who has been the heart of our Weaving Studio for 16 years! She is retiring at the end of July and we thank her for her many years of devotion and inspiration she’s given to the Art Center and all of her students. If you’d like to see more of Jan’s work, we’re excited to announce that she will be a 2017 Members Show Spotlight artist.
Bio: Jan began weaving after reading “Silas Marner” while in high school in the 1950s. Her parents bought a loom from some “people in the country,” and with help from an experienced weaver , she started what has become a life-long pursuit. After high school, Jan attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art for two years, and then spent a summer at Haystack Mountain School. Jan studied with Lili Blumeneau, Anni Albers and Jack Lenor Larsen. She spent time in studios in Boston, Ogunquit, ME, then in Palo Alto before going to “The Weavers” shop in Berkeley in the early 1960’s, when she also began teaching classes.
Q. What do you find most inspiring about teaching art?
A. What inspires me about teaching are the mutual challenges shared between students and teachers. It becomes a transformative experience.
Q. How did you become involved with the Richmond Art Center?
A. In 2000 I had just left San Francisco City College after a decade of teaching. The Richmond Art Center weaving department needed a teacher and I was aware of the splendid studio room and equipment. That was 16 years ago when I accepted the position and I’ve enjoyed teaching every year.
Q. Please tell us about the Richmond Art Center’s Weaving Studio and why it’s so special!
A. One important feature is the additional studio time available outside of class time. It not only means larger projects are attempted, it encourages a community between between those students able to take advantage of the additional hours. I feel privileged to have had students of great diversity and dedication continuing to learn to make good textiles with me at Richmond. It’s an experience that is very important to me.
Q. What was your path to becoming an artist? Please share some of your favorite work.
A. I was influenced by my older sister who was pursuing a college art degree during my high school years. Her drawings, paintings and books were a big window on the art world for me. Meanwhile, I was very much always “making something” on my own. Sewing was a strong early interest.
Q. Who are your inspirations?
A. Contemporary fiber artists. The North American Indian textiles. Tribal art, especially fiber and cloth. I did not study with Ed Rossbach but his work is at the top of my appreciation list. Lillian Elliot was a friend in my 60s Berkeley years. I was a big fan of her work. Currently, I like conferring with Peggy Osterkamp over weaving questions and I admire the approach Carole Beadle presents in her teaching.
Q. What do you like to do when you’re not at the Art Center?
A. I live near the Pt. Reyes National Seashore and Tomales Bay wetland so I walk and hike trails close to my home.
Q. What’s on your bucket list?
A. Trying to reduce clutter in my life! I am spending creative time sorting through past information…I need a BIG yard sale.
Q. If you could meet one artist, living or not, who would it be and why?
A. That’s too difficult to imagine! Work and personality are two different aspects to consider. Work speaks to me.
Thank you, Jan, for your interview, and for the years of artistic inspiration you’ve given to the students at the Richmond Art Center.
Images, top row (left to right):
“Four Horses”, 16”x10″
“Red Dots”, 45″x30″
Corduroy wall rug, 45”x40″
Images, bottom row (left to right):
“White, Black & Red”, 11″x9″