Undergraduate degree in genetics? Check.
Master’s degree in fine arts? Check.
Scientist and artist? Check.
Such is the case with scientist-artist Donna Billick, who created the “Miss Bee Haven” six-foot bee sculpture in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the University of California, Davis.
Miss Bee Haven?
“I like to play with words,” said Billick, who received both her degrees from UC Davis and then embarked on fusing art with science by teaching classes at UC Davis.
The sculpture, funded by Wells Fargo, graces the half-acre bee friendly garden, located on the Department of Entomology grounds of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road.
“The bee sculpture is beautiful and provides the perfect focal point for the garden,” said entomologist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology who oversees the garden. “On top of that it accurately represents a worker bee and provides an educational component as well as an aesthetic one.”
Kimsey, who is master-planning the grand opening celebration of the garden, set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, said the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven “is sure to become a campus destination.”
The key goals of the haven, Kimsey said, are to provide a year-around food source for the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators, to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees, and to encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own.
It’s quite appropriate that the bee sculpture is beneath an almond tree in the garden. California has some 700,000 thousand acres of almonds; each acre requires two bee hives for pollination.
Billick, who worked on the bee from her Davis studio, Billick Rock Art, is the co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. Billick founded the program in 2006 with entomologist-artist Diane Ullman, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and now associate dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
A self-described “rock artist,” Billick designed, fabricated and constructed Miss Bee Haven, using rebar, chicken wire, sand, cement, tile, bronze, steel, grout, fiberglass and handmade ceramic pieces. The project took her four months to complete.
“During this entire process, I developed a real in-depth relationship with honey bees,” Billick said. For inspiration and detail, she visited the apiary in back of the Laidlaw facility, read about the functions of bees, and held the thoughts close. “It was not about expressing anything other than the beeness. I have a lot of respect for bees.”
A 35-year artist, she studied with such masters as Bob Arneson, Roy De Forest, Wayne Thiebaud and Manuel Neri.
Her work on the UC Davis campus includes the colorful Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility’s ceramic sign that features DNA symbols and almond blossoms.
Scientist? Check. Artist? Check.
Scientist-artist? Most definitely.
The honey bee sculpture that graces the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis is bee-u-tiful.
It's the work of nationally renowned artist Donna Billick, based in Davis. Indeed, the bee sculpture is so unique, so creative and so detailed that you can almost hear it buzz.
You'll get a close-up look at the bee at the grand opening celebration on Saturday, Sept. 11. The time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The place: Bee Biology Road on the west end of campus. The event will include speakers, honey tasting, children's activities, and tours of the half-acre bee friendly garden.
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, planted last fall, is designed to be a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators; a teaching resource and field research site; and an educational experience for visitors. "It promises to become a campus destination," said entomology professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Kudos to Haagen-Dazs for its generous gift.
Kudos to the winning design team from Sausalito: Ann F. Baker, landscape architect; Jessica Brainard, interpretive planned; Chika Kurotaki, exhibit designer and Donald Sibbett, landscape architect.
And kudos to the construction team that put it all together: Cagwin and Dorward Landscape Contractors.
The ceramic art tiles on the bee "pedestal" are the work of undergraduate students and community residents involved in the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.Donors making gifts or pledges of $1000 or more will have their names placed on ceramic art tiles--and on the website of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. Pledges can be paid over five years, according to Jan Kingsbury, director of major gifts, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
The deadline to contact her in order to have these tiles in place before the Sept. 11 opening is July 20. "We are just about to finish the art work for this set of tiles," Kingsbury said. (She can be reached at (530) 304-4327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.) Donors, however, can make contributions year-around to the haven or to the honey bee research program.
Indeed, the declining bee population is troubling. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) continues to wreak global havoc. This winter was the worst ever, the nation's apiculturists agree.
Meanwhile, plans are shaping up for the grand celebration of the haven. Those planning to "bee" there on Sept. 11 should contact Nancy Dullum of the UC Davis Department of Entomology at email@example.com and insert "honey bee haven" in the subject line. The body of the text should indicate the number of visitors.
The half-acre garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven planted last fall at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, is not only bee friendly but it will be art friendly.
At the entrance to the garden will be a two-column sculpture of decorated bee boxes; the first column depicting activity within the hive, and the second column depicting activity outside the hive.
Outside the hive? Think workers gathering nectar, pollen, propolis and water.
A hexagonal block beneath a sturdy almond tree in the garden will hold a giant bee sculpture--yes, let's put the beleagured honey bee on a pedestal! Ceramic art panels will adorn the sides. Billick is creating the giant bee sculpture. The Ullman-Billick classes are providing the rest of the art in the garden.
Bee friendly, art friendly, people friendly.
The haven will be a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators and an educational experience for visitors, who can learn the plight of the honey bee and the importance of having bees in our gardens. Plus, visitors will glean ideas on what to plant in their own gardens to attract pollinators.
The public celebration is in its early planning stages, but the date is set and all systems are green:
Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010.
If you look closely at the colorful ceramic sign at the Harry H.Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, you'll see an entrance to a bee hive.
Entrance? Right. There's a hole in the skep, which tunnels to a hive in back of the sign.
And if you look really closely at the entrance, you'll see guard bees guarding their turf. They don't like home invasions or unwelcome visitors. When bees from other colonies try to sneak in to rob the honey stores, the guards chase them out.
The sign? It's the work of Davis artist Donna Billick, who co-teaches art-and-science classes at UC Davis with entomologist-artist Diane Ullman, a professor in the Department of Entomology.
Look for their students' "bee art" next spring at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden planted this fall next to the Laidlaw facility. A public opening is set for June 19.
Look closely at Charles Darwin's ceramic face.
You'll see selections from his secret notebooks and images of organisms that most influenced his scientific studies.
His beard is peppered with moths. You'll also find barnacles, iguanas, finches, orchids and other creatures on his face.
It is, says Diane Ullman, "a profound learning experience in and of itself."
The ceramic mosaic, appropriately titled "The Face of Darwin," will be among the art work displayed June 3-July 3 in the Buehler Alumni and Visitors' Center at UC Davis.
The background of "The Face": Ullman, an entomologist-artist, taught a freshman seminar with fellow artist Donna Billick to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birthday. Ullman and Billick co-founded the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and serve as the co-directors. The seminar was part of the Art/Science Fusion Program.
The Buehler art exhibit features more than 50 student photographs from Terry Nathan's class, "Photography: Bridging Art and Science," also part of the Art/Science Fusion Program. The photographs, Nathan said, explore the conceptual connections between art and science and the role of art and science on the UC Davis campus.
A public reception takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 4.
"The Face of Darwin" is both hauntingly beautiful and a vividly detailed study of the science that engulfed the evolutionary biologist. The eyes plead his passion, begging for knowledge, understanding and realization.
It is, indeed, as Ullman said, "a profound learning experience in and of itself."