- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It's a program that, as the name indicates, fuses art and science. Science with art.
On that note, two noteworthy events sponsored by the program will take place next week.
But first, what's the program all about?
It's the brainchild of UC Davis entomologist/artist Diane Ullman and her close friend and colleague Donna Billick, a self-described "rock artist." Their visions and talents are absolutely amazing and have drawn national and international attention.
Ullman and Billick began teaching classes in the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now Entomology and Nematology) in the mid-1990s that led to the formation of the Art/Science Fusion Program. They founded the program and now serve as co-directors. Today it includes design faculty, science faculty, museum educators, professional artists and UC Davis students.
“Participants see and feel art and science, hold it in their hands, hearts and memories—in ceramics, painting, photographs, music, and textiles,” said Ullman, professor of entomology, former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and former associate dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Basically, it's an innovative teaching program that "crosses college boundaries and uses experiental learning to enhance scientific literary for students from all disciplines." The program promotes environmental literacy with three undergraduate courses, a robust community outreach program, and sponsorship of the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASERs).
One of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program's most visible and “wow!” projects is the 2,500 pound mosaic art, Nature's Gallery in the Storer Garden, UC Davis Arboretum. It showcases the interaction--and the beauty--of insects and plants. It was initially displayed at the U.S. Botanical Garden in Washington D.C. and at the California State Fair.
Another project that draws much attention and acclaim is the Ent 1 art in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
Billick created “Miss Bee Haven,” a six-foot-long honey bee sculpture that anchors the garden. "I like to play with words,” said Billick. She also created the colorful Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility's mosaic ceramic sign that features DNA symbols and almond blossoms. A hole drilled in the sign is ready for a bee hive.
Also in Davis, Billick created the whimsical Dancing Pigs sculpture and the Cow Fountain, both in the Marketplace Shopping Center on Russell Boulevard; the Mediation sculpture at Central Park Gardens; and the Frawns for Life near the West Area Pond.
Billick traces her interest in an art career to the mid-1970s when then Gov. Jerry Brown supported the arts and offered the necessary resources to encourage the growth of art. He reorganized the California Arts Council, boosting its funding by 1300 percent.
She maintains a compound in Baja, where she teaches three workshops a year called "Heaven on Earth." She has won numerous awards for her work.
For outstanding teaching, Diane Ullman was recently selected the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Award in Teaching from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America. She is now one of six candidates for the ESA Distinguished Teaching Award. ESA will select the recipient from one of six branches—Pacific, Eastern, North Central, Southeastern, Southwestern and International—and present the award at its Nov. 16-19 meeting in Portland, Ore.
The other noteworthy event involving the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program occurs on Monday, June 2. It's the popular LASER-UC Davis event and will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Room 3001 of the Plant and Environmental Sciences Building. (LASER is an acronym for Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous.) One of the program's teachers, Anna Davidson, a Ph.D candidate in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, is coordinating and moderating the event. Come by at 6:30 for socializing and networking. The program starts at 7.
Davidson has gathered an exciting program of four speakers, with a discussion and more networking to follow from 9 to 9:30:
- Gene Felice, graduate student, at the University of California Santa Cruz, will speak on "Justice in a More Human World" from 7 to 7:25.
- Michael Neff, associate professor in Computer Science and Cinema and Technocultural Studies at UC Davis, will speak on "The Gap Between Computational and Artistic Models of Movement"
- Danielle Svehla Christianson of the Berkeley Center for New Media, will discuss "The Gap Between: Computational and Artistic Models of Movement, “A Digital Forest: 01100110 01101111 01110010 01100101 01110011 01110100” from 8:10 to 8:35 p.m.
- Joe Dumit, director of Science and Technology Studies and professor of anthropology at UC Davis, will speak on "Haptic Creativity: Seeing, Scaling and Storymaking with the KeckCAVES" from 8:35 to 9 p.m.