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Posts Tagged: UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program

UC Davis Arboretum Plant Sale!

Tom Tucker's bee hat: all the buzz! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you missed the first fall plant sale at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, you're in luck.

The next public sale is Saturday, Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

We attended the sale on Saturday, Oct. 11 and it was the equivalent of Black Friday (the Friday following Thanksgiving Day). Only this was like "Green Saturday."  It was a gathering of green thumbers and wanna-be green thumbers. We delighted in seeing their enthusiasm for plants and pollinators.

Bee enthusiast/UC Master Gardener Tom Tucker of Vacaville was there to display his bee condos, or housing for leafcutting bees and blue orchard bees. The bee condos? They're easy to make, he says. His "bee hat" was all the buzz. 

Art was there in the form of ceramic insects that UC Davis Entomology 1 students created under the encouragement and direction of the UC Davis Art Science Fusion Program, co-founded and co-directed by entomologist/artist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick. Ullman is a professor of entomology at UC Davis and Billick is a self-described "rock artist" who retired from teaching classes at UC Davis in June--but not from art.

A ceramic ant nestled in the plant growth. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A sign indicated that the ceramic insects were perching, nesting or resting.

Not to be outdone by the ceramic bees, the real bees were there, too. We watched them nectar purple  lavender (Lavandula), red blanket flower (Gallardia) and the yellow bulbine (Bulbine frutescens). One good rule of thumb in purchasing plants for pollinators: observe what the pollinators like.

The UC Davis Arboretum website explains it all: "Several times each year, our support group, Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum, holds plant sales at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery, offering hundreds of different kinds of uncommon garden plants that have been locally grown, including the Arboretum All-Stars, our top recommended plants for Central Valley gardens. Dozens of volunteers work hard all year to grow plants for sale to support the Arboretum. Learn about volunteering at the Arboretum."

Check out the plant list on the website. You can download a PDF or an Excel file.

If you don't know a plant from a hole in the ground (in preparation for a plant, of course), you can ask the experts at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery.

They know.

Honey bee heading toward a bulbine (Bulbine frutesens). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee heading toward a bulbine (Bulbine frutesens). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee heading toward a bulbine (Bulbine frutesens). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee foraging on a blanket flower (Gallardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee foraging on a blanket flower (Gallardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee foraging on a blanket flower (Gallardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

These are some of the bee condos that bee enthusiast/UC Master Gardener Tom Tucker displayed at the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
These are some of the bee condos that bee enthusiast/UC Master Gardener Tom Tucker displayed at the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

These are some of the bee condos that bee enthusiast/UC Master Gardener Tom Tucker displayed at the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Plant enthusiasts attending the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Plant enthusiasts attending the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Plant enthusiasts attending the Oct. 11 fall sale. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, October 24, 2014 at 9:20 PM

Time for Celebration and Nostalgia

Donna Billick with a bouquet of flowers from UC Davis Arboretum director Kathleen Socolofsky. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It was a time for celebration and a time for nostalgia.

The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, an innovative program that fuses art with science--and science with art--took shape 17 years ago, co-founded and co-directed by entomologist/artist  Diane Ullman and self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick.

Together Ulllman, professor of entomology, and Billick, trained as a scientist (genetics), formed a tight-knit talented team that taught Entomology 01 students about art and science. For nearly two decades, the duo taught students about such scientific subjects  as honey bees, bumble bees and dragonflies, and then inspired them to create mosaic ceramics, paintings and other art work.

“Participants see and feel art and science, hold it in their hands, hearts and memories—in ceramics, painting, photographs, music, and textiles,” Ullman said.

Today the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program includes science faculty, design faculty, museum educators, professional artists and UC Davis students.

Tonight (Friday, June 6) marked the end of an era. At the celebration in Third Space, Davis, a crowd came to admire the work of the spring-quarter ENT 01 students and praise the accomplishments of Billick, who is retiring from the university at the end of June. Barring a financial miracle or a grant to save the program, the spring quarter marked Billick's last as an ENT 01 teacher.

Of their 17 years together, Ullman quipped: “Some marriages don't last that long.”

Billick praised the students' work and "their ability to connect the head through the heart through their hands. We created together and we communicated together… the students rocked this venture.”

The result: an internationally recognized program that continues to draw oohs and aahs, as well as and overseas invitations to speak. Much of the art is displayed throughout the campus, including the UC Davis Arboretum and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.

Diane Ullman, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis Arboretum Director and Assistant Vice Chancellor Kathleen Socolofsky, applauded the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program's huge legacy of art in the Arboretum that attracts scores of visitors and will be treasured for generations. One piece, Nature's Gallery, showing the interaction of plants and insects, was displayed in the U.S. Botanical Garden, Washington D.C., and is now permanently at home in the Arboretum's Storer Garden.

As for Billick, she 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. 

Billick maintains a compound in Baja, where she teaches three workshops a year called "Heaven on Earth." 

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.

Billick said she is grateful for the UC Davis experiences and the endless opportunities. "I'm looking forward to the next phase (of my life as an artist)," she said. "Please don't think of me as leaving; I'm spreading out.”


""Rock artist" Donna Billick with Terry Nathan, UC Davis professor of atmospheric science. He teaches photography in the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

"Rock artist" Donna Billick with Terry Nathan, UC Davis professor of atmospheric science. He teaches photography in the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology 01 student Justine Abbott, majoring in biological sciences, created this work on the Asian giant hornet, Vespa manderinia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomology 01 student Justine Abbott, majoring in biological sciences, created this work on the Asian giant hornet, Vespa manderinia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology 01 student Justine Abbott, majoring in biological sciences, created this work on the Asian giant hornet, Vespa manderinia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology 01 student Eric Smith, majoring in biochemistry, titled his work on the walnut husk fly,
Entomology 01 student Eric Smith, majoring in biochemistry, titled his work on the walnut husk fly, "Look Into My Eyes." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Entomology 01 student Eric Smith, majoring in biochemistry, titled his work on the walnut husk fly, "Look Into My Eyes." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, June 6, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Fusing Art With Science

This is part of Nature's Gallery, fusing art with science. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program is incredible.

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).

Entomologist-artist Diane Ullman, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Now a noteworthy part: On Friday, June 6, the UC Davis Art Science Fusion Program will sponsor a public celebration of the art of Entomology 1 students (taught by Ullman and Billick) and the accomplishments of Billick. The theme:  “Seeing the Invisible: Art and Insects.” It will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Third Space, 946 Olive Drive, Davis. 

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.

Anna Davidson, moderator/organizer of LASER event. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
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.

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: 

 The  schedule:

  • 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.
Read more about the four speakers on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website.
 

UC Davis Art/Science Fusion co-founder and co-director Donna Billick with her mosaic ceramic sculpture, Miss Bee Haven, in the half-acre Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis Art/Science Fusion co-founder and co-director Donna Billick with her mosaic ceramic sculpture, Miss Bee Haven, in the half-acre Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis Art/Science Fusion co-founder and co-director Donna Billick with her mosaic ceramic sculpture, Miss Bee Haven, in the half-acre Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

Self-described rock artist Donna Billick addresses the crowd at the opening of Nature's Gallery, UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Self-described rock artist Donna Billick addresses the crowd at the opening of Nature's Gallery, UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Self-described rock artist Donna Billick addresses the crowd at the opening of Nature's Gallery, UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 5:53 PM

The Scholar and the Walnut Twig Beetle

Close-up of the walnut twig beetle, a ceramic mosaic work by Kristina Tatiossian. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Most people have never seen the walnut twig beetle, a tiny insect that spreads a fungal pathogen that kills walnut trees. 

No wonder. The insect, measuring about 1.5 millimeters long, is much smaller than a grain of rice. 

Now, however, they can see a teddy-bear-sized version, thanks to a University of California, Davis entomology major Kristina Tatiossian, a member of the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology.  

Through the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, Tatiossian, a junior, crafted a ceramic mosaic sculpture of the tiny walnut twig beetle for her research poster, “Flight Response of the Walnut Twig Beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis, to Aggregation Pheromones Produced by Low Densities of Males.”

The beetle jutting from the poster is so true to form that scientists studying the insect not only readily recognize it, but point out that it’s a female. That includes her mentor, chemical ecologist and forest entomologist Steve Seybold of the Davis-based Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, and an affiliate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.

Seybold and Andrew Graves, a former UC Davis researcher with the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology, who now works for the USDA Forest Service, first detected the newly recognized beetle-fungus disease, known as Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD), in California in 2008. TCD had been detected earlier in Colorado and its impact had been noted even earlier in New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah.  TCD and its history are chronicled in a newly revised “Pest Alert” issued by the USDA Forest Service.

Steve Seybold, mentor
The beetle, emerging from a gallery of a black walnut tree, is accurate right down to the concentric ridges that occur on the skin (cuticle) that protects its head. Some observers claim the beetle is smiling and could be a cartoon character.

Tatiossian accomplished the research project as part of the  Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology, which aims to provide undergraduates with a closely mentored research experience in biology. Headed by professor Jay Rosenheim, and assistant professor Louie Yang of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, the program currently has 12 students; students apply when they are freshmen, sophomores or transfer students. Tatiossian joined the program in 2011 and is mentored by Steve Seybold. 

Tatiossian completed the ceramic mosaic project over a four-week period. She earlier worked on two UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program projects, including the “Tree of Life,” with the program’s founders, entomologist/artist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick. A former Los Angeles resident, Tatiossian will receive her bachelor’s degree in entomology this June and then plans to attend graduate school to study either biochemistry or virology.

Jay Rosenheim, director
Meanwhile, the poster is making the rounds. Tatiossian entered the poster in the Entomological Society of America’s student poster competition last year at its meeting in Knoxville, Tenn., where it drew lots of attention, not only for the research project but for the art.

Tatiossian will giving an oral presentation on her research at the Pacific Branch, ESA meeting, set for April 7-10 at South Lake Tahoe. Then she will display the poster again in the Undergraduate Research Conference at UC Davis on April 24 in Wellman Hall.  

By itself, the beetle, native to Arizona, California, New Mexico and Mexico, does little or no damage. But when coupled with the newly described fungus, Geosmithia morbida, it is killing thousands of walnut trees. 

The disease is creating havoc throughout much of the western United States, Seybold said, and is now heading east. Its primary host is the black walnut tree but it also attacks other walnut trees.

Louie Yang, director
On her poster, Tatiossian explained that the walnut twig beetle (WTB), in association with the fungus, causes the newly recognized disease, Thousand Cankers Disease. WTB vectors the fungal pathogen, which infects phloem tissue around the beetle galleries, she wrote. “Numerous localized infections have led to the common name of the disease.”

“Male WTB initiate new galleries and produce an aggregation pheromone, which can be used to study patterns of initial host colonization behavior of WTB. It has been previously shown by Graves and colleagues (2010) that as the number of males in a branch is increased from 20 to 200, the flight response of males and females is similarly increased,” she wrote. “We investigated flight responses to lower numbers of males in cut branch sections of northern California black walnut, Juglans hindsii.”


Her objective: “To determine the minimum number of males in an artificially infested branch of Juglans hindsii necessary to elicit a flight response from WTB.”  She found that as little as one to five males is enough to elicit the aggregation response at her field study sites at two locations in Davis.

The poster will be displayed on the third floor of Briggs Hall, just outside the Department of Entomology’s administration office.

On her poster, Tatiossian credits Seybold; Extension entomologist Mary Louise Flint,  associate director for Urban and Community IPM, UC Statewide Integrated Pest Program; entomology graduate student Stacy Hishinuma, and postdoctoral researcher Yigen Chen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.

And the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program where the tiny walnut twig beetle sprang to life.

Kristina Tatiossian and the ceramic mosaic of a walnut twig beetle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Kristina Tatiossian and the ceramic mosaic of a walnut twig beetle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Kristina Tatiossian and the ceramic mosaic of a walnut twig beetle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The poster that Kristina Tatiossian created. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The poster that Kristina Tatiossian created. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The poster that Kristina Tatiossian created. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Donna Billick: Crossing Disciplines and Borders

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:

Listen to Donna Billick

Listen to Diane Ullman

 

Donna Billick with her ceramic mosaic sculpture of a honey bee in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Donna Billick with her ceramic mosaic sculpture of a honey bee in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Donna Billick with her ceramic mosaic sculpture of a honey bee in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

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