Rockford College hosts UnCommon Lives: Extraordinary Women in the Arts

Five renowned women artists are slated for the eighth UnCommon Lives: Extraordinary Women in the Arts series, with performances from writer le thi diem thuy, a string quartet—the Colorado Quartet, fabric artist Faith Ringgold, jazz vocalist and actress Dianne Reeves, and choreographer and author Twyla Tharp.

UnCommon Lives began in 1991, and features women whose lives, talents and visions have found expression in the arts. Rockford College will present four evening events on campus as well as a luncheon at Giovanni’s.

Tickets are available through the Rockford College Box Office, (815) 226-4100 and luncheon reservations at the UnCommon Lives office at Rockford College, (815) 226-4168. Tickets for artist performances are $10; keynote luncheon reservation is $38.

UnCommon Lives events sell out; early ticket reservations are strongly recommended. Information-only hotline can be reached at (815) 394-5050.

More info about UnCommon Lives: contact Marti Frantz or Robin Kenny at 226-4168.

The biennial celebration of women in the arts is committed to excellence and access. In addition to performing, UnCommon Lives artists conduct educational activities such as master classes, workshops and forums, which bring the arts to the entire region.

These educational activities are the product of partnerships between Rockford College and community organizations such as public and private schools, libraries, arts councils, galleries, museums and performing arts organizations. The caliber of artists, as well as their accessibility to the community, are made possible by donations and in-kind contributions from foundations, businesses and individuals, as well as the arts community and Rockford College.

le thi diem thuy—Writer/solo performance artist

Tuesday, March 14: Reading/book discussion, Maddox Theatre, Rockford College, 7:30 p.m.

le thi diem thuy (pronounced – lay TEE yim TWEE) is a writer and solo performance artist who creates in English the consciousness of Vietnamese life. Her work is described as “poetically spare but psychologically rich.”

le has been described as a “writer on the verge; one of the most intriguing and original voices on the literary scene.”

Both of le’s novels are adaptations of solo performance pieces. Red Fiery Summer became The Gangster We Are All Looking For, published in 2003 and for which she received a Guggenheim Fellowship. A new performance piece, The Bodies Between Us, is currently being adapted for publication as a novel soon to be released.

Colorado Quartet—String quartet

Tuesday, March 16: Concert, Maddox Theatre, Rockford College, 7:30 p.m.

The Colorado Quartet is recognized on four continents as one of the finest string quartets on the international scene. Noted for their musical integrity, impassioned playing and lyrical finesse, the Colorado Quartet created a program for UnCommon Lives exclusively featuring the works of women composers.

The program will feature a world premiere of Katherine Hoover’s Quartet No. 2, The Knot. Members of the quartet will speak from the stage about their relationship to the music and/or the composers.

Highlights of past years include tours of more than 20 countries and performances in major cities across the globe. The group is Quartet-in-Residence at Bard College in New York state, where members of the Colorado Quartet present courses about the Literature of the String Quartet, teach private lessons and coach chamber ensembles.

For more information, visit the Web site of

Faith Ringgold—Painted story quilts

Friday, March 17: Slide lecture gallery opening and reception, Maddox Theatre and Art Gallery, Rockford College, 6 p.m.

Faith Ringgold is best known for her painted story quilts—art that combines painting, quilted fabric and storytelling.

Ringgold is a prominent contemporary artist who addresses gender and race from a very personal perspective, and tells stories about African-American history and black subjectivity.

Considered one of the foremost progressive American artists of the 20th century, Ringgold has received 17 honorary doctorates, a Guggenheim, several awards from the National Endowments for the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award. She is a teacher, lecturer and author.

Ringgold’s exhibit will be on display in the Rockford College Art Gallery through April 14. Student groups can arrange for docent-led tours of the exhibit by contacting Philip Soosloff at (815) 226-4034. More information, visit

Dianne Reeves—Jazz vocalist

Saturday, March 18: Jazz concert, Maddox Theatre, Rockford College, 8 p.m.

Dianne Reeves is recognized as one of jazz’s pre-eminent vocalists, and is the only vocalist to have won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for three consecutive recordings.

The dignity of Reeves’ singing is rooted in her childhood. She lost her father to cancer at 2, but the women in the Reeves family—her grandmother, mother, aunt and sister—helped give her an unshakable fortitude.

Reeves is the Creative Chairman for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where she oversees the scheduling of jazz programming and educational workshops at both the Hollywood Bowl and the new Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Her most recent project is the George Clooney movie Good Night and Good Luck, released in October 2005. Reeves provides the sound-track (released on CD in October 2005) and also appears in the movie.

More info, visit

From the March 8-14, 2006, issue

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