California's Gold and Nature's Gallery

Aug 11, 2008

When the California State Fair, Sacramento, opens Friday, Aug. 15 for an 18-day run, don't miss "California's Gold" and "Nature's Gallery" in the UC Davis Centennial Pavilion (Building 3).

The 6,000-square-foot pavilion will showcase what the university is all about, from its toddler stages to its teenage years to today. It's the university on parade, with one million visitors vying for curbside seats.

What are "California's Gold" and "Nature's Gallery?" Think insects. Think art. Think of a fusion of science and arts. In fact, both projects are part of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, directed by UC Davis entomologist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick. It's a program where students merge with faculty, staff and community members to create art.

"California's Gold" is a 3x5-foot ceramic mosaic of the state, depicting California's flora and fauna, including the California poppy, quail, trout and salmon, as well as some of our major agriculture crops--dairy cows, honey bees, almonds, grapes, garlic and olives.

"Nature's Gallery" is a spectacular mosaic mural depicting plants and insects on ceramic tiles. (Note that not all of the massive "Nature's Gallery" will be there; just a part of it.) The exhibit drew 300,000 visitors when it was displayed last summer at the U.S. Botanic Garden on the Capitol Mall, Washington, D.C. Eventually the work will be installed in the Ruth Storer Garden, UC Davis Arboretum.

"California's Gold" is going places, too. Following its display at the Aug. 15-Sept. 1 state fair, off it goes for temporary display in Cong. Mike Thompson's office in Washington, D.C.

Ullman and Billick said UC Davis students' creative energy and talents sparked both "California's Gold" and "Nature's Gallery," but we all know that Ullman and Billick are the driving forces. They are amazing innovators who fuse science with art and make their projects both fun and creative. They founded the Art/Science Fusion Program, which is housed in Science and Society, UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

So, it's not surprising that Ullman, an entomology professor and associate dean for undergradaute academic programs at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, received a top faculty award this year: the 2008 Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity and Community. 

Ullman creates communities of learning, said Rahim Reed, associate executive vice chancellor for Campus Community Relations, and she encourages students "to learn in creative ways, discover new careers, and engage in their campus and community."

Very well said. Very well said, indeed.

See you at the fair!