- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It's a wonderful, well-deserved honor that pays tribute to her amazing talents.
Donna Billick, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and an artist known for crossing disciplines and borders from Davis to Central America to deliver and coax creative expressions, has been selected the staff recipient of the Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity and Community for 2012-2013.
The award recognizes Billick for her “contributions in enhancing inclusiveness and diversity within the campus community," according to Rahim Reed, associate executive vice chancellor, Office of Campus Community Relations.
Billick, a self-described "rock artist," will be honored at a reception in Chancellor Linda Katehi's residence on Feb. 6. The honor includes a $500 monetary award.
“Donna is an exceptional leader who has devoted her life to creating access to the arts and sciences to the broadest communities possible,” said entomology professor Diane Ullman, associate dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Billick’s art projects not only span the campus and into area communities throughout California, but delve into Mexico and Central and South America.
“She has a remarkable ability to coach novices and help them find confidence in their artistic expression,” said Ullman, who nominated her for the award with three UC Davis Arboretum officials: director Kathleen Socolofsky, assistant director Carmia Feldman, assistant director and senior museum scientist Emily Griswold.
Indeed. We've seen Billick engage children, college students, teachers and grandparents, taking self-professed non-artists and showing them that they, too, can express themselves with art.
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, launched in 2006, is a multi-course program with outreach activities involving 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, who previously received the Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity and Community in the faculty category.
Billick's work--and the work of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program--can be seen on the UC Davis campus in the Arboretum, Shields Oak Grove and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, among other sites.
One of the program's most spectacular projects is Nature’s Gallery, a ceramic mosaic mural showcasing plants and insects found in the Arboretum’s Ruth Storer Garden. The U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington, D.C., displayed the mural in 2007; it now has a permanent home in the Storer Garden.
Billick created the six-foot-long honey bee sculpture for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, and the ceramic mosaic sign that fronts the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road.
Billick founded and directs the Billick Rock Art of Davis, a studio that has brought large-scale public art and community-built art to communities across the nation since 1977. She also launched the Todos Artes, a program providing destination workshops and community-built art in Baja, Mexico, since 2006.
An alumna of UC Davis, Billick toyed with a scientific career before opting for a career that fuses art with science. She received her bachelor of science degree in genetics in 1973 and her master’s degree in fine arts in 1977, studying art with such masters as Bob Arneson, Roy De Forest, Wayne Thiebaud and Manuel Neri.
If you want to know more about how these artists, listen to their TEDx talks posted on YouTube: