From the moment she joined the Dallas Contemporary as director of exhibitions/senior curator, it was clear that Justine Ludwig was ready to bring something fresh and new to the Dallas art world.
Ludwig focuses on the work of emerging and under-recognized contemporary artists, and in just two short years her exhibition highlights have included Paola Pivi’s playful first U.S. museum show “Ma’am,” Nadia Kaabi-Linke’s evolutionary “Walk the Line” installation, and the current philosophically inclined “For Future Reference” from Mexico City-based sculptor Pedro Reyes.
Now Ludwig’s work is being recognized in a larger forum on Artsy.net, as one of the 20 most influential curators in the United States. She joins Studio Museum in Harlem associate curator Amanda Hunt, Whitney Biennial curator Mia Locks, and Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles curator Jamillah James, among others.
Her presence on the list helps illustrate a sea change in the museum world, one that portends a future that is more diverse, expansive, and overwhelmingly female.
“What these curators have in common is changing the art world through their practice,” she says. “They show work that evokes the desire to de-center the art world.”
Ludwig says her focus is a nice complement to the blockbuster exhibitions that the Contemporary mounts, such as the current Bruce Weber retrospective. “I’m known primarily for working with women artists and focusing on new commissions, as well as giving artist their first museum shows in the U.S.,” she says. “The Contemporary has a commitment to show local, national, and international work; that’s really been the drive of the institution.
“I always aimed to place local and international art in dialogue with one another — working with artists that are bringing to light issues that are relevant to the city of Dallas.”
Having formerly worked with Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, and the Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Massachusetts, Ludwig says the biggest thrill for her is the opportunity to draw attention to her adopted city.
“For me, it’s amazing because it draws attention to what’s going on in Dallas. When you look at the cities that are represented, it means a lot to have Dallas included in that narrative.”