- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
You may remember hearing about the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program project when it was displayed in the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2007.
Nature's Gallery drew raves then and it's drawing raves now.
It's a mosaic mural of 140 interlocking ceramic tiles depicting plants and insects. Now it's in its "forever" home--the UC Davis Arboretum's Ruth Storer Garden, located on Garrod Drive. It anchors what is to be Nature's Gallery Court.
A grand opening is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 9.
The mosaic mural attracted more than 300,000 visitors when U.S. Botanic Garden showcased it. The mural inspired many a visitor to become a gardener, many a gardener to become an artist, many an artist to become a scientist, and many a scientist to become an artist.
Handcrafted by UC Davis staff, faculty and community members, it is art you can study and science you can decipher. The colors, the shapes, the plants, the insects--they're all there.
Its installation in the Storer Garden is nearing completion, according to Diane Ullman and Donna Billick, co-founders and directors of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. The last remaining part: the donor tiles on the donor wall.
Donors may contribute either $500 for an insect tile (6x8 inches) or $1500 for a plant tile (16x21 inches). Each tile will be inscribed with the scientific name of the insect or botanical name of the plant, along with the donor name(s). At the onset, 76 plant tiles and 54 insect tiles were available, but as of Friday, April 27, only a few remain. (See website for information on availability or contact Suzanne Ullensvang, resource development manager at (530) 752-8324 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The tiles can be a fitting tribute to the memory of an avid gardener or just a public way to support art and science as one entity.
As its name implies, the Art-Science Fusion Program merges scientists with artists. It includes design faculty, science faculty, museum educators, professional artists, and UC Davis students.
You won't find a more passionate duo of science/art leaders than Ullman and Billick. Ullman, a professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, serves as associate dean for undergraduate academic programs at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. And, Ullman is an artist in her own right. Billick, who holds two UC Davis degrees--a bachelor's degree in genetics and a master's degree in fine arts--is a self-described "rock artist." Among her work: the morphologically correct ceramic bee sculpture in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis.
The garden is named for Ruth Risdon Storer, Yolo County’s first pediatrician who loved both medicine and plants. Designed for year-round color with low water use and low maintenance, it includes many Arboretum All-Stars.
Come June 9, the public will celebrate another "All-Star"--Nature's Gallery.