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Dallas Contemporary's 'creative force' heads to New York for prominent art position

A board member of Creative Time, where Ludwig is headed, cites her "commitment to social justice and devotion to the realization of artists' dreams"

Justine Ludwig, deputy director and chief curator at Dallas Contemporary, is leaving the Design District museum for New York City to become the executive director of Creative Time, a Manhattan-based nonprofit known for large-scale public art projects.

In 2016, Ludwig won a mention on the website as one of the "20 most influential curators in the United States."

Reached for comment Thursday night, she admitted being excited about the opportunity but described leaving Dallas as bittersweet.

"Dallas is home for me," said the Massachusetts native. "When I think of home, I think of Dallas."

Even so, she professed feeling "utterly honored to be taking the helm at Creative Time. It's an organization that I've admired for so many years. I love the work that they do and really believe in the work that they do. So, this is such a privilege.

"I have loved living in Dallas. I love this city so much. It's been a pleasure working with Peter Doroshenko and the amazing staff at Dallas Contemporary. I remain a huge fan of the creative community here. It's one I'm never going to forget."

Doroshenko, the executive director of Dallas Contemporary, told The Dallas Morning News on Thursday that Ludwig's departure will be "a great loss" for the Dallas community.

"Justine was a force to be reckoned with," Doroshenko said, "in terms of curators in the last 10 years in Dallas. Justine was engaged in many different ways, with artists, with all the institutions, with universities. ... So, it's all bittersweet for me personally.

"But at the same time, she's going on to be the executive director of Creative Time, which is a major force in terms of alternative and public art in New York.

"That speaks to her talent and what she was able to achieve in Dallas."

Ludwig will remain with Dallas Contemporary until June 1, Doroshenko said, meaning she will be here for the upcoming Dallas Arts Month and the Dallas Art Fair, which opens with a gala on April 12. Dallas Contemporary is one of the organizations that will benefit from monies raised through the gala.

After all that, Doroshenko said, Dallas Contemporary will conduct a search to find Ludwig's replacement.

"We are thrilled to be working with Justine," Jon Neidich, Creative Time board member and head of the search committee, said in a statement released to The New York Times.

Her "commitment to social justice and devotion to the realization of artists' dreams make her the perfect person to further Creative Time's role as a leading voice in public art, both nationally and beyond," Neidich said. named Dallas Contemporary curator Justine Ludwig one of its 20 most influential young curators in the U.S. named Dallas Contemporary curator Justine Ludwig one of its 20 most influential young curators in the U.S.(Nick Glover / Justine Ludwig)

As noted in The Times, during her days at Dallas Contemporary, Ludwig "wrote for international publications and oversaw exhibitions by artists including Pia Camil, Pedro Reyes and Paola Pivi. Among them was 'Bara, Bara, Bara,' an installation by Ms. Camil comprised stitched-together T-shirts made in Latin America for sale in the United States and then transported illicitly to bargain markets in Mexico, which Ms. Ludwig said addressed the 'economic dependency' between the two countries."

Reached by The Times, Ludwig said Creative Time is "an organization I have admired for many years. As we contend with the consequences of a deeply divided nation, I see Creative Time as having the opportunity to engender productive, discursive debate."

As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens, and so it will be, Ludwig told The News, for the future of Dallas' art community.

"I think it's important for the creative community to have new voices come in and change the conversation. So, I think this is really an exciting moment. I'm absolutely thrilled to see who Dallas Contemporary brings in next."

As for her comment about "the consequences of a deeply divided nation," Ludwig said this:

"We are in a moment right now where people who hold different political values and world views often feel like they are completely unable to communicate with one another. And when you create narratives where things are black and white, rather than shades of gray, there is no discursive space. What I have seen first-hand, being based in Dallas now and previously being based in Ohio, is that, through art, there's an opportunity to talk about some of the most difficult issues we face as a society."

Updated at 8:25 p.m.: Revised to include comments from Justine Ludwig

Michael Granberry, Arts Writer. Michael Granberry was born and grew up in Dallas. He graduated from Samuell High School in Pleasant Grove in 1970 and from Southern Methodist University in 1974. Between his junior and senior years, he interned at The Washington Post during "the Watergate summer" of 1973. He spent 19 years at the Los Angeles Times before returning to Dallas. @mgranberry
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