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Davis, California

Monday, June 10, 2024

Annual Whole Earth Festival brings together artists of all kinds — ‘Can You Dig It?’

WEF honors the UC Davis value of community through a unique array of art 


By SAVANNAH ANNO and JULIE HUANG — arts@theaggie.org

From May 10 to 12, the 55th Whole Earth Festival (WEF) filled up the entirety of UC Davis’ Russell Field. Featuring live music, food and vendor booths, and a variety of different interactive spaces, the Whole Earth Festival attracts over 30,000 visitors each year. 

The festival is entirely student-run — featuring areas like the Kids, Experiential and Art Spaces, WEF organizers aim to educate visitors on topics like wellness and sustainability through creative activities. 

At this year’s Art Space, visitors were given the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of work, ranging from poetry to textiles. 

Cindy Chen, a fourth-year design major and one of the co-coordinators for the Art Space, explained the process for receiving art submissions and creating their annual outdoor art gallery. 

“When we were accepting work, we didn’t set any limits,” Chen said. “Art is not just painting. People are good at different kinds of art; we wanted to see artworks from different people and forms.” 

Receiving submissions from almost 30 different artists — both students and community members — the outdoor gallery was able to fill up six different walls of work, each set up and curated by student volunteers. 

 The space also included a table display and a free screen printing activity for visitors. Relying on close ties with their community, Jessica Wong, a second-year art studio major and the other co-coordinator for the space, was able to borrow portable screen printing bikes from a Bay Area organization that she had previously volunteered with.

“Yesterday I biked it over and it was crazy,” Chen said. “It’s terrible to bike, but it’s really good for art making.”

Designed by Wong, the Art Space screen print consisted of 12 small squares, each filled with a different symbol. Ranging from a crab to an orange slice to a shovel, the design was able to convey what the Whole Earth Festival holds most dear: celebrating nature, building community and emphasizing the importance of the arts. 

Kaya Kurtz, a second-year sustainable agriculture and food systems and sustainable environmental design double major, highlighted the benefits of participating in WEF as a student volunteer. 

“Everyone is so open and happy and just willing to share, talk and become friends,” Kurtz said. “I feel like all of the different spaces where you can volunteer are so unique, [and] it’s really interesting to see all the planning that goes into it.” 


Rosalie Sinclair, vendor and owner of Citrussloth — a business that boasts dice, paper crafts and “other goods with wellness and joy in mind” — confirmed the considerable range of hobbies, activities and creations represented at WEF. As an instructor for the UC Davis Craft Center, Sinclair was part of their yearly booth at the festival. 

“I instruct the sun catchers, fused glass, screenprinting [and] nature journaling, all sorts of classes,” Sinclair said. 

Sinclair originally saw the activity of dice making as one that only involved herself and her friends, but she decided to transform the hobby into a business after ending up with a surplus of dice. This decision has allowed her to expand her personal network and foster a deeper sense of connection with the overall Davis community. 

“I love selling them to the community,” Sinclair said. “It really helps me engage with the public a lot, especially younger people trying to find their place in Davis.”

Developing bonds within the community has consistently been a significant aspect of both Sinclair and the Craft Center’s experience with WEF. 

“We have [a booth] every year, we make the stickers for WEF and they let us come and vend,” Sinclair said. “There’s always some sort of arrangement [for] all of us and it’s a great way to build more community and work with WEF.” 

Most Craft Center course instructors are community members or graduated students, like Sinclair, while the courses themselves are available not only to students but to anyone interested in joining. This policy has helped further expand the WEF network and the personal ties between members of the community. 

“We get a lot of people [coming to the booth] wanting to take classes, especially with summer coming up as our next semester,” Sinclair said. “It makes it a lot easier for community members to get into classes when there are less students, so it’s really nice to be able to reach out, talk about it and get some new people into the center afterwards.” 

Apart from providing invaluable community space, WEF also allows its vendors to engage with their personal artistic interests in a productive manner, intertwining the values of community with their personal values and individual processes of creating art. 

“I try to make community through my art and make art more accessible for everyone that way,” Sinclair said. 

Lisa Rogers, vendor and owner of Slowdigz botanical prints, explained that her niece, a former Davis undergraduate, introduced the festival to her as a unique way to engage with her business and her interests. 

“I liked thrifting, and I love nature and hiking, so [my business] kind of combines both,” Rogers said. “I have an upcycled line, so a lot of pieces are second-hand.” 

The festival provided Rogers with a community space in which she was able to display her craft. WEF’s focus on environmental sustainability and sustainable action allowed Rogers to promote her business to a wider audience while honoring the personal values that influenced her business choices. 

“I like to [buy secondhand items and upcycle], and I like to go out into nature, and I like to garden, so [a sustainable practice] allows me to bring those two together,” Rogers said. “[My products] only use natural fibers and not any synthetic fibers or dyes.” 

Similarly, the array of products displayed at Sinclair’s booth demonstrated a range of artistic expertise and interest that hinted at the personality behind each creation.  

“I’m a big caster: I cast in resin, I cast in metal, I cast in glass,” Sinclair said. “That’s part of how I’m able to do a lot with glass, because I’m used to working with the medium. I do a lot of glass screen printing, which is my main forte.” 

Citrussloth and other vendors will also make appearances at the upcoming Davis Pride Fair and Festival on June 1, which similarly features local creatives and art booths. 

As an event designed to showcase the artistic creations and interests of individuals within the broader context of a welcoming environment, WEF encapsulates the best of the Davis community.

 “All of it comes together,” Kurtz said. “It’s fun to share the community we have and show what Davis is about.”


Written by: Savannah Anno and Julie Huang — arts@theaggie.org 



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