There are different ways in which people express cultural heritage in order to properly connect with their identities. In the case of Ludlow E. Bailey, he has been able to do it successfully through global Arts whilst impacting people positively with his extraordinary life.
For this reason, we are excited to have him share his story with us as he takes us through his journey of reconnecting back to his culture.
Early life and Education
Born in the Caribbean to a family who were pioneers in their own nation, Ludlow was raised with a rich legacy of hard work, discipline and the need for education. At an early age, he migrated to the United States of America where he had his education. His brilliant and diligent nature soon paid off when he was accepted into several Ivy League Universities. Eventually, he chose Brown University where he studied Philosophy and also won the prestigious Thomas Watson Fellowship, beating over 30,000 applicants to secure one of the 30 awarded positions. This allowed him to study Contemporary African Philosophy at the University of Ghana; after which he went on to attend the University of Dakar and later to the American University in Cairo. Although he was accepted at the Harvard Law School, he discontinued studies there as he realized that practicing law wouldn’t be his long-term interest. After acquiring a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, he completed his academic work.
Contemporary African Diaspora Art
After his academic pursuits, Ludlow became a Senior Executive with TWA Airlines. Whilst working there, he leveraged his airline flight privileges to visit over 130 countries and took the opportunity to study and understand cultures globally. During this period, he met new people, learnt new languages, visited prestigious museums and galleries, and attended Art shows around the world. All these strongly solidified his interest and passion in modern African Diaspora Art and Culture; and so, he begun to globally represent both current and promising Artists.
Ludlow has since grown to become one of the most influential and sought-after Curator of Fine Arts and Contemporary African Diaspora Art and Culture. Being a major player in the global Art scene, what sets him apart from others is the infusion of cultural passion he represents and exhibits with each work of art. He is also realizing his vision of African Diaspora Art making a significant global and cultural impact. In addition, he serves as a Consultant to different museums and art galleries globally through CADA (Contemporary African Diaspora Art) International, of which he is the Founder and Managing Director.
Speaking about his focus on culture and arts, he says: “People wonder why as a Curator I am interested in promoting works relating to the African diaspora. My intention is to get people of African descent to start talking again. This is because our journey has been tremendously disrupted due to slavery, colonization and racism. Part of what I do is to try to use Art as a way of getting us to heal and to learn to respect ourselves. Also, we need to trace the talent we come with as the first people on the planet. One of the things I always say is that the celebration of black culture is an act of resilience and rebellion against white supremacy and racism. Black people not only experience racism with white people, but also from Chinese, Indians and so on. I believe this is so because they do not know who we are, nor do they know our history. What they are responding to is what the colonialists told them we are.”
Ludlow can easily be described as someone who has culture in his soul. He has dedicated his life, work, education and travel to study, and to celebrate cultures from around the world
According to him,” a lot of my personal journey seeks to decolonize who I am, because I was technically made in America. Now that I am trying to decolonize, I realize that it can be challenging as I don’t have a lot of time to remake myself into an ‘original’ African. For me it is a big journey as I now have to learn languages, get back into spirituality and so on. Nonetheless, it is a journey I am taking because my soul is interested in learning about its past. This is an important process and I want to become my highest self which I have successfully used Art to do. I am not a racist, but rather a humanist; and so, I believe that the work I do can help to grow humanity. Black people get undervalued in the world because of the way the Europeans initially perceived us, so to be an African is to be at the lowest level in the foot chain unfortunately. From those days the world has been convinced that we have no culture, no history, and made no contribution to the development of society, which is a complete lie.”
Ludlow has curated over 55 visual art shows in the last decade and is the brain behind exhibitions such as “Roots of the Spirit” and “Afro Soul.” This years’ Afro Soul Exhibition will be held from 1st December 2020 till 28th February 2021, with its annual Panel Discussion on Contemporary African Diaspora Art on Sunday 6th December, 2020.
For more information about Ludlow E. Bailey and CADA International, kindly visit: www.CADA.us
For more information on the AfroSoul Exhibition, kindly visit: www.afrosoulexhibit.com
The AfroSoul Exhibition and CADA Panel Discussion on Contemporary African Diaspora Art are supported by the USVI Department of Tourism.
By: Theresa R. Fianko
With Additional Information from: Ludlow E. Bailey
Images used with the full permission of: Ludlow E. Bailey