This Week on American Black Journal:

Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth Carter exhibitsBlack Panther, ‘Wakanda Forever’ costumes at The Wright Museum

Two-time Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, renowned for her work on iconic films like Black Panther, Malcolm X and Roots, has delved into the artistry of her designs in a new exhibit at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The exhibit, “Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design,” is on display through March 31, 2024. It showcases the power of storytelling through costume design and honors ancient African cultures through Afrofuturistic pieces.  

Carter’s star-studded career spans over three decades in film, television and theater, and her impressive portfolio of seventy credits bears testament to her talent and dedication. Collaborating with directors such as Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, Ava DuVernay, and Ryan Coogler, Carter’s costume designs have helped to shape the narratives of African Americans on the big screen. From “Do The Right Thing” to the groundbreaking “Black Panther” and its sequel, “Wakanda Forever,” her costume design work has cemented her status as an expert on period genres and Afro aesthetics. 

Her deep-rooted connection to Afrofuturism, which she defines as the fusion of technology with imagination, self-expression, and entrepreneurship, stands as a cornerstone of Carter’s remarkable career. Her designs bring to life the essence of Afrofuturism, promoting a philosophy that liberates Black Americans, Africans, and Indigenous people from the constraints of slavery and colonialism. Through her exhibit, she showcases her outstanding work but also sheds light on the transcendent impact of representation through costume design in cinema. 

“American Black Journal” host Stephen Henderson sat down with Carter at The Wright Museum to talk about her illustrious career and her exhibit on display. They discuss how she became interested in sewing and designing, the inspiration behind her costume designs, and becoming the first African American woman to win multiple Academy Awards.

Dance Theatre of Harlem returns to Detroit Opera House for its 2023-2024 U.S. tour

The Dance Theatre of Harlem is set to return to Detroit, gracing the Detroit Opera House stage Oct. 21-22 for the third stop of the dance troupe’s much-anticipated 2023-2024 tour. Detroit Opera House was the stage for their last visit in 2022, where they presented Claudia Schreier’s “Passage,” a poignant work commissioned to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in North America. Additionally, they enthralled audiences with “Higher Ground,” a ballet set to the soulful melodies of Stevie Wonder, showcasing the theatre’s ability to seamlessly blend tradition and modernity.  

The theatre’s connection to Detroit spans farther than previous years’ performances, however. The Dance Theatre of Harlem, founded by the first African American principal dancer of the New York City Ballet, Arthur Mitchell, has been captivating audiences worldwide with its innovative blend of classical and contemporary ballet. Robert Garland, the current artistic director and resident choreographer, continues this legacy by choreographing ballets that pay tribute to the rich musical heritage of Detroit, featuring the sounds of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Motown music. 

In an exclusive conversation with “American Black Journal” host Stephen Henderson, Garland shared insights into the troupe’s upcoming performances, the company’s illustrious history, and how the pandemic has influenced the current and future landscape of dance.

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Watch American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.