Welcome to 10 Brilliant Dallas Women, a pop-up online series about 10 awesome women making Dallas a better place to live.
Justine Ludwig arrived in Dallas a year ago, but to hear her talk about the city, you'd think she'd been here longer. Since moving from Cincinnati to take the job as director of exhibitions and senior curator at the Dallas Contemporary, she's made her way to the front lines of the fight for a stronger art scene in Dallas. She sees the potential, and she's not one to sit back and talk about "tipping points" and "a city on the verge." To Ludwig's mind, the city just needs a little nudge, and she's flexing her curatorial muscles, pushing the city into an international context.
This weekend, the first round of programming she's overseen will be unveiled at the Dallas Contemporary. It's already an impressive feat, entailing not one or two, but five concurrent exhibitions. She's curated two of the shows, Bani Abidi's and Nadia Kaabi-Linke's, and the artists she's selected demonstrate both her eye for beauty and her belief that the intelligence of the Dallas audience shouldn't be underestimated.
If anyone is up to the task of evolving the culture of Dallas Contemporary and helping to position Dallas art in a global context, it's Ludwig. Her résumé details a smattering of jobs throughout the country and the world. In 2008, she immersed herself in the contemporary art of Mumbai, India, for three months, which culminated in the exhibition Shilpa Gupta: A Bit Closer. And that's just one small piece of her career, which has included positions in museums throughout the country, and an MA in Global Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London. But despite her extensive education and varied professional experience, Ludwig is hardly uptight. She describes herself as a grown-up goth kid, and is just as likely to be found at a DIY noise show as an uppercrust art party.
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Art runs in Ludwig's blood. With an avid art collector for a grandmother, she has always engaged in creative pursuits. She painted as a child, and as an adult she's created performance art pieces in the Japanese dance-theater style, Butoh. To hear her talk about her curatorial process is to realize that for Ludwig, it's an art form. She's passionate about the work that will be displayed at the Dallas Contemporary this fall, and committed to generating an international dialogue around Dallas art. If she has anything to do with it, Dallas is on its way to being the next great art city. Let's hope she's right.
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