Jupiter Island’s Jane Davis Doggett not only joined the greats as a notable Florida artist, but she also revolutionized the travel industry.
If you’ve ever visited an unfamiliar airport (or subway station, stadium or hospital) and navigated it with an almost unnatural grace and confidence, odds are you have Jane Davis Doggett to thank.
“I feel like I helped people move through those spaces,” says the Jupiter Island resident who spent much of her career designing transportation systems.
As a leading figure in the environmental graphic design movement, Doggett—who last year joined Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, Ray Charles and Tennessee Williams in the Florida Artists Hall of Fame—masterfully simplified the complexity of travel by revolutionizing how society manages mass transit. Her artistic imprint also stretches from the utilitarian to the inspirational.
Her latest artwork—Wings of The Eagle—is currently on display at the Elliott Museum in Stuart through Jan. 23. The 3-D graphic features asymmetrical boxes of 12 separate American flags, whose mirrored edges create the effect of wavy red-and-white fractals bordering a cascading field of blue stars.
“It shows the country in motion,” she says. “It’s not static. We’re moving and changing, and we have many facets.”
Changes in mass movement provided the background for Doggett’s breakthrough into environmental graphic design. The era of jet travel was emerging. Rinky-dink airports phased out to make way for jetliners and terminals expansive enough to annually move millions.
An avid drawer since age 4, Doggett’s parents encouraged her talents. The Nashville native earned her master’s in architecture and design from Yale University. After successfully designing a Memphis airport, she worked on the Tampa International Airport, which still regularly ranks among the top airports in the nation.
“People would go out to the airport with their children to watch the jets go,” Doggett remembers. “This age was so exciting. It needed young designers.”
Some begged to differ, particularly the engineers who worked alongside her, Doggett recalls.
“These engineers with white beards and dark pants and white socks with black shoes didn’t want to admit that this little girl from Yale knew something,” she says. “We tangoed a little bit, but that’s OK.”
Schooled in the Bauhaus style of design, which she summarizes as “less is more,” Doggett sought to maximize the conveyance of information in minimal time and space. Her system of letters, colors and shapes neglected no detail. She carefully blended tones to ensure clarity for colorblind travelers. She invented a typeface for easy reading on the go. She designed funnels of natural light for greater clarity at “decision points.”
Doggett’s designs grace major airports in Houston, Baltimore, Newark and Fort Lauderdale, among others, as well as Madison Square Garden, the Philadelphia subway system, Vanderbilt University and Fairfax Hospital in Virginia. Her other claim to fame is her Wearable Art©—a line of artistic creations on silk stoles and ties.
As an art admirer and collector, Doggett loves antiquities that reveal ancient artists’ abilities and ingenuity. She marvels at the natural blend between architecture and technology. Most of all, she’s grateful for her ability to still imagine and create works of beauty.
“Some chosen careers stop, but I think the artist’s [trade] does have the gift of imagination and perspective that continues for years,” she says. “You just don’t lose that creative ability. You can get old, but you’re still seeing things afresh.”