UC Merced 'Designing Woman' Honored in International Exhibit

"Designing Women" ImageAfter 30 years in the field of design, and still counting, award-winning UC Merced artsprofessor Dunya Ramicovais honored among 110 female designers in an international exhibit of the history of theatrical design.

"Designing Women" is on display at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts through May 2, and features the works of an elite group of women from 1890 to present who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields of scenery, costume, lighting and projection design.

As a contemporary artist, Ramicova is delighted but also amused to find herself featured in what is largely a retrospective. Equating it with a lifetime achievement award she said laughingly, "This is the kind of honor you usually get when you are about to die, but it is still definitely an honor."

Throughout her career, Ramicova has had what she calls the extreme good fortune of having worked with the likes of Peter Sellarsand John Adams. She primarily designs costumes for contemporary opera, theater and independent film.

"I do a lot of costume design for new opera works, which I like a lot," she said. "I have been privileged to work with the best and most brilliant artists and playwrights of the 20th century."

Included in the "Designing Women" exhibit will be about half a dozen of the costumes Ramicova designed for works produced by the Metropolitan Opera in New York, most of which are from "The Voyage;" the 1992 Philip Glass opera commissioned to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the Americas.

"It is a spectacular opera," Ramicova said. "My designs were of these wonderful sea monsters that appear in Columbus' nightmares, all representing Queen Isabella."

Ramicova said the costume she designed in 1993 for Luciano Pavarotti's role as Oronte in Verdi's "I Lombardi" was simple by comparison, but holds an important place in history because of its wearer.

"I am very lucky to have traveled in the highest hemisphere of the acting world," she reflects. "My life has not been boring."

Ramicova grew in a family of actors and artists, but dreamed of becoming a painter. In costume design, she found her own spectacular way to apply her love of fine arts to the world of performing arts. She earned her MFA from Yale School of Drama and began a distinguished career that has enriched her life in countless ways.

"Costume design is an amazing profession because you actually work with different artists, directors, singers, actors, composers, dancers, choreographers - a designer must work closely with everyone involved in a production."

Ramicova shares the lessons of her unique experiences with her students at UC Merced, including firsthand knowledge of the people she teaches about in her theater classes. Students gain a privileged perspective on the history of clothing, costumes and fashion in her related classes, and she also teaches drawing and watercolor.

Ramicova is among the founding faculty at UC Merced, and enjoy her role in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. One of the driving forces behind "Arts UC Merced Presents …",the university's new performing arts series, Ramicova is passionate about developing an enriching program at UC Merced.

"Our students love the art classes; they fill up within hours."

Tonya Luiz

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