Exhibit lauds creator of ‘Black Panther’ costume
PITTSBURGH — For more than 30 years, costume designer Ruth E. Carter’s creations have brought the AfricanAmerican experience to life on the big screen, from 19th-century slave ships in “Amistad” to 1980s Brooklyn in “Do the Right Thing” to the Afrofuturistic land of Wakanda in “Black Panther.” Now, she’s brought the spectrum of her work to Pittsburgh for a new exhibit called “Heroes & Sheroes: The Art & Influence of Ruth E. Carter in Black Cinema.”
The show opened this month at the Senator John Heinz History Center, showcasing more than 40 costumes from nine movies, and runs through Dec. 2.
“I’d been thinking about doing a retrospective for some time, and I really do love Pittsburgh, so it seemed like a comfortable place to test the waters for the exhibit,” Carter said in a recent phone interview.
Carter has worked on more than 50 films since she made the switch from designing for theater companies and dance troupes in the early 1980s, when Spike Lee hired her as a costume designer on “School Daze.”
The exhibit will celebrate her career and showcase sketches and movie clips alongside the costumes from films including “Amistad,” “Sparkle,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “The Butler,” “Malcolm X,” “Selma” “Do the Right Thing” and of course “Black Panther.”
Carter was approached about bringing a retrospective to Pittsburgh by Demeatria Boccella, whose organization FashionAFRICANA focuses on art and fashion in the African diaspora for shows around the city. Carter says she hopes visitors take away from the exhibit something they didn’t know before and perhaps find inspiration from her back story:
“If I can do it, they can do it. You can live out your dream.”