HERRON: As a general fine arts major, which discipline was your primary focus — printmaking, furniture design, or art history?
AUSTIN RADCLIFFE: Art History was the backbone of my education at Herron. I took courses in all these areas and greatly benefited from my studio classes. I was also a visual communication design major for a short time.
HERRON: What co-curricular activities did you pursue to expand your horizons?
RADCLIFFE: I was involved with several extracurricular endeavors during my time at Herron. Internships and weekend opportunities enriched my B.F.A. experience. Available space and a supportive community in Indianapolis made exhibitions feel attainable.
The summer after my foundation year, I sought out an archaeological field school in Perryton, Texas. This was just after I started blogging as Things Organized Neatly, and I was reading every Mark Dion book I could find in the Indiana University library system.
I began curating exhibitions in an artist-run space called Mt. Comfort: A Space for Champions with Casey Roberts (B.F.A. Photography). Mt. Comfort no longer exists, but Casey is still an active and formidable artist in Indianapolis, exhibiting internationally.
On the weekends, I worked in galleries and special collections at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, which celebrates Vonnegut, an important cultural figure and Indianapolis native. This was my first gallery job.
During my final semester at Herron, I interned for Tom Sachs during the installation of his ambitious Mars exhibition at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. I took a 12-hour bus from Ohio and slept on a friend's couch in Brooklyn for a week, surviving on Clif Bars. It was not glamorous, but the experience of being in New York, being involved with a major installation, and meeting people who worked in the top tier of the art world was invaluable.
HERRON: Since graduating, what are the three best things that have happened?
RADCLIFFE: Hard to believe I left Herron just five years ago! My three most memorable projects since graduating are as follows:
- Art Basel's social media team hired me as their lead photographer for the art fair in Basel, Switzerland in 2015. The job included 15-hour work days, running on cobblestone streets with my gear, editing on the fly, and general chaos for the entirety of the fair. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
- Tate Collective in London invited me to speak at Tate Britain about Things Organized Neatly and internet culture. I also gave photo workshops and led a tour at Tate Modern.
- Things Organized Neatly as a book was extremely gratifying, including Tom Sachs and Mark Dion. The book can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in museum book stores.
HERRON: You’ve had a lot going on! What else is new?
RADCLIFFE: I’ve been working hard to get placement in art bookstores and museum shops. I also have an upcoming project in Japan where I will be Neatly Organizing electronics. Stay tuned for that…
Otherwise, art handling, photography, and social media have kept me busy since graduating. Art handling or "preparator" work is something every art student and graduate should know about. I've also curated several exhibitions, co-founded an internet gallery, worked in commercial photography, and made some extra cash as a DJ and concert promoter.
HERRON: What about curating excites you?
RADCLIFFE: I've always had a general thirst to understand and absorb culture. I was fascinated by art history’s trajectory, especially Dada to Abstract Expressionism with [professor Patrick] Kinsman. It's a thrill to go out into the world and find the monumental figures I learned about in art history class, or to connect the dots realizing this work inspired that thing.
The same is true of music sampling, photo composition, or the layout of a well-curated exhibition. Relationships are really what interest me — they could be personal or artistic, visual or spatial, cultural or contextual. This is the common thread in all my endeavors. Juxtapositions and visual dialogue drive my curiosity and artistic output.
HERRON: Where do you see yourself going with your personal brand?
RADCLIFFE: Such a Millennial question! But totally relevant... Well, I have spent the last several years curating and working in galleries, expanding beyond Things Organized Neatly. Living in California will have an impact on my aesthetic, and photographing this new environment. That said, I am still interested in aesthetics, design, photography, art history, archaeology, human history, technology, and books that relate to any of the above topics.
HERRON: Do you have any advice to share with current or incoming Herron students?
RADCLIFFE: Go to the Herron Art Library — at least once a week! Flip through the magazines that interest you. Find cool books and take them to your studio. Discover an artist you've never heard of. Repeat.