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The Textile Queen – Ruth Carter’s Magic Touch For the Win!

February 24, 2019

We’re gearing up for the 91st Academy Awards and
Black Panther’s nomination gives us a lot to look forward to. Black Panther
breaks another boundary by becoming the first comic book movie nominated for
best picture but without Ruth Carter’s genius the vision may not have come to
fruition. Carter, the visionary behind the film’s Afrotuturistic imagery, is
nominated for Best Costume Design. Her talent is finally taking the world stage
and on Sunday, she could be the first African American person to win an Oscar
in her category nomination. Ahead of the Oscars, Carter, who is a Hampton
University alum, received a career achievement award at the Costume Designers
Guild Awards in Beverly Hills.  

‘‘After working on ‘Black Panther,’ you all
asked me ‘How did it feel experiencing designing my first superhero?’ Truth is,
I’ve been designing superheroes my entire career,’’ she told the Boston

Her vision has shaped some iconic movies for
decades. Carter was born in Massachusetts’s, but her career began in 1986 after
working with the Los Angeles Theater Center. She met director Spike Lee who
hired her for his second film, School Daze (1988). From there, Carter’s
vision has shaped films like Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues,
Malcolm X, What’s Love Got to Do With It, The Butler, Serenity,
Selma and more.

On her vision for Black Panther she has stated:

knew Marvel comic books and that this super fandom was big, so I was
enthusiastic. I was curious,” Carter said. “I thought this has got to
be an important film, and it had to be something that was Afrofuturist … I
would have to represent images of beauty, forms of beauty, from the African
tribal traditions so that African-Americans could understand it; so that
(non-black) Americans could understand African-Americans better; so we could
start erasing a homogenized version of Africa.

In Black Panther we saw visual
representation from Ghana, South Africa, East African, and more. Carter was
intentional about using certain color palettes, and symbolism in creating looks
for the heroes. For example, Okoye, T’Challa and Nakia can be seen wearing red,
black and green, which represents the Pan-African flag. In Shuri’s first scene
she’s wearing a shirt that features the Ghanaian Adinkra symbol for “purpose”
on it, the Dora Milaje uniforms have armour inspired by south african jewelry,
and more.

The comic books alone didn’t tell Carter what
she needed to know as far as how to create the Wakandan style of dress, but she
did a lot of research and looked into textile production, hand-dyeing, and
beading techniques of the Tuareg, Zulu, Maasai, Himba and Dinka peoples, which
helped inspire the film’s rich color palette. Carter has stated that she wanted
to show the world the beauty of tribal dress and move it forward in an
Afrofuturistic way.

In other words, Ruth Carter is a genius, and a legend and whether she wins the Oscar or not, it’s amazing to see her get her accolades while she’s still here. #BlackGirlMagic for the win!  

Original article source: | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council

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