By Shawn Nowlin firstname.lastname@example.org
Those who were there say it was an evening that they will never forget.
Last weekend’s Opening Party for the “Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design” was a unique celebration of all the accomplished women artists involved. Throughout the occasion, more than 1,800 people visited the Taubman Museum of Art to experience the exhibition. The Virginia State University drumline and dance squad helped kick off the festivities with a performance that drew a standing ovation from all in attendance.
“We were honored to have Ruth E. Carter on hand to co-host the event along with Micaela Erlanger, the guest curator for ‘All That Glitters: Iconic Jewelry and Hollywood Style,’” Cindy Peterson, the Taubman Museum of Art’s Executive Director, said.
Among those present at the party was Maya Green. “As I’ve gotten older, my understanding and appreciation of African-American culture and its role in art has grown significantly. I came to the event to learn, laugh and fellowship, and I was able to do just that.”
Known for her research and creativity, Carter has been honored with two Academy Award nominations for her work in the period ensemble films “Amistad,” directed by Steven Spielberg, and “Malcolm X,” directed by Spike Lee. Carter also earned an Emmy Award nomination in 2016 for the remake of the mini-series “Roots.”
In 2019, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Carter the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for the film, “Black Panther.” Her win is historic twofold: she is the first Black person to receive this honor, and her costumes garnered Marvel Studios its first Oscar.
When Kimberly Ragland got a chance to talk to Carter at the party, she says she couldn’t have been more generous with her time. “I asked her questions that I’m sure she’s heard a million times, but she never gave off the impression that I was annoying her,” she said. “I had no idea that she was involved in so many classic projects. I plan on revisiting them soon.”
Carter’s costume designs enable actors to fully immerse themselves in the roles of their lifetimes, transforming Oprah Winfrey into voting rights activist Annie Lee Cooper, Denzel Washington into Malcolm X, and Chadwick Boseman into the King of Wakanda.
“In addition to Carter’s costumes for Winfrey, Washington, and Boseman, the exhibition also features garments worn by luminaries such as Angela Bassett, Eddie Murphy, Lupita Nyong’o, Rosie Perez, and Forest Whitaker, among others, demonstrating the varied work Carter brings to the screen,” Peterson noted.
The Museum’s genesis dates back to 1951 when it was called the Roanoke Fine Arts Center. As the Center’s collection and programming grew, the organization changed names and facilities several times throughout its journey of growth, which culminated in its current home, the purpose-built Taubman Museum of Art in downtown Roanoke.
The Museum has grown to become a landmark cultural institution, maintaining a permanent collection of more than 2,100 works, while its 12 galleries support around a dozen original exhibitions per year. Featured artists have included John Singer Sargent, Norman Rockwell, Kehinde Wiley, John Audubon, Andy Warhol, Nell Blaine, Robert Henri, Amy Sherald, P. Buckley Moss, and Romare Bearden, just to name a few.
The Taubman Museum of Art is the only free general admission museum in Southwest Virginia and is one of only one-third of art museums nationally that offer free admission.
The Afrofuturism exhibition will be on display through April 3, 2022. Interested members of the Salem community can learn more information by visiting taubmanmuseum.org.