The Art & Influence of Ruth E. Carter in Black Cinema presented by FashionAFRICANA

Designer Ruth E. Carter & Demeatria Boccella Curatorial and Events Producer


FashionAFRICANA will present the world premiere of HEROES & SHEROES: THE ART & INFLUENCE OF RUTH E. CARTER IN BLACK CINEMA in partnership with the Senator John Heinz History Center, where it will be on view Saturday, Aug. 25 through Sunday Dec. 2, 2018. An opening event for patrons and the press will be held at the museum on Friday Aug. 24, 2018.

The exhibition will showcase costumes from Carter’s 35-year career as a Hollywood designer. She’s the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award in Costume Design and earned a second Oscar nomination for her designs for “Amistad” (1997) directed by Steven Spielberg. In 2016, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for her work on the reboot of “ROOTS” for History Channel. Fourteen films directed by Spike Lee also feature costumes by Carter, and she’s collaborated on more African-American historic film projects than any other costume designer in history. One of her latest credits is the 2018 blockbuster “Black Panther” produced by Marvel Studios. Carter’s designs for “ROOTS,” “Selma” (2014), “The Butler” (2013), “Do the Right Thing” (1989) and “Malcolm X” (1992) are among the costumes slated for Pittsburgh.

These displays, coupled with multimedia elements and other ephemera, will aim to highlight the power of costume design to educate, entertain and inspire the next generation of heroes and sheroes. “I have been dressing superheroes my whole career,” Carter said about the films she’s worked on. “Martin Luther King, Jr. was a superhero. Malcolm X was a superhero. Tina Turner, as well as Coretta Scott King, were superheroes.” FashionAFRICANA teamed with Carter to bring the exhibition to Pittsburgh through a shared connection to late actor and Pittsburgh native Bill Nunn III, who appeared as Radio Raheem in Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” “I think the significance of showcasing and celebrating Ruth Carter‘s work is multi-layered. It’s not often that People of Color, Black people, are recognized for the extraordinary work that they are doing — especially in design,” said FashionAFRICANA founder Demeatria Boccella. “It’s a great honor to work with Ruth and celebrate her extraordinary body of work. I’m happy that FashionAFRICANA has created a platform to recognize men and women of African descent who have excelled in the field of design.”

After the exhibition debuts in Pittsburgh, a tour is being planned for 2019, with possible stops in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles and Houston. It will travel to other cities under the name “Dress Code.”


Ruth E. Carter’s unparalleled ability to develop an authentic story through costume and character has made her one of the most sought after and renowned costume designers today. She has been credited with more than 40 films, and counting. She’s known for her research and diligence to the craft, holding two Oscar nominations for her outstanding work in the period ensemble film, “Amistad” directed by Steven Spielberg, and “Malcolm X” by director Spike Lee. Carter also earned an Emmy nomination for “ROOTS.” More recently, Carter completed work on “Yellowstone,” a television series starring Kevin Costner directed by Taylor Sheridan, and a Netflix film called “Dolemite is My Name” starring Eddie Murphy.


Established in 2001 by Demeatria Boccella, FashionAFRICANA celebrates the beauty and diversity of the African Diaspora through design, dance, music and curated exhibitions. Its programming reflects the vitality of the creative human spirit and has brought to Pittsburgh fashion designers and artists from around the world, including photographer Mario Epanya, model and activist Bethann Hardison and Tony- and Emmy-winning costume designer Paul Tazewell.


The Senator John Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and the largest history museum in Pennsylvania, presents American history with a Western Pennsylvania connection. The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum is a museum within a museum, comprehensively presenting the region’s remarkable sports story through hundreds of artifacts and interactive experiences for visitors of all ages. The History Center and Sports Museum are located at 1212 Smallman Street in the city’s Strip District, and are open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The History Center’s museum system includes the Sports Museum; the Fort Pitt Museum in historic Point State Park; and Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, a National Historic Landmark located in Avella, Pa., in Washington County. More information is available at


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