Featured Innovator : Alex Woodward

Straddling the Line:Alex Woodward started working at American Steel Studios a while back. He is a whiz-bang fabricator with a gentle demeanor and a robust sense of humor. Over time, Alex began spending longer hours at the warehouse, long after his day shift with TC Steel had ended. Not overtime, but play time. Alex found himself drawn into a number of the large-scale artistic fabrication projects underway for Burning Man at American Steel Studios this summer, and simply couldn’t resist pitching in to help out with a few of them.

Zac Coffin was clearly happy for Alex’s experience and energy as he burned the midnight oil producing his installation, The Universe Revolves Around You.
We tracked Alex down in-between costume changes and asked him a bit about himself and what inspires him.
AM : What do you do?
AW : I am the foreman of TC Steel. A structural steel and metals fabrication shop.
AM : This translates to Alex wearing a lot of different hats – or masks, as the case may be. Alex spends a lot of time making sparks, and even more time making sure the shop runs smoothly and deadlines are met.

AM : Why do you do what you do?
I love to build things, welding them together especially. Having the power to liquify metal and manipulate it to your will makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

AM : What inspired you to relocate to Oakland?
AW : The opportunities of living in a big city. The diversity, challenges, and the massive scope of possibility. The pool was too small were I was, it was time to grow. Oakland might have some weeds on top, but the soil is good below.

AM : Has working in proximity to so many artists been an inspiration or a curse?
AW : Having the opportunity to work in the American Steel facility with so many artists has been pure inspiration. I never knew there was a place like this in which you can take an idea and make it real. Regardless of how crazy you think it is. There is some one there that can build it or help you build it.

AM : Have you stretched any boundaries lately?
AW : I’m not much of a boundary pusher. I’m either well within bounds or way over the line. At the moment, besides life’s little bumps, I am stretching out with no boundaries in sight.

AM : You live and work in Oakland, do you shop locally?
AW : Yes, I love to shop locally. I do visit the mega marts from time to time, but I always seem to be unsatisfied when i leave.  Even if i got a good deal.  But when i go local, I like the quality, interaction, and to support local businesses. It usually costs a little more but it’s worth it. Local is the best way to get all that a city has to offer.

AM : How do you feel about the growth and diversity of American Steel?
AW : The growth and diversity of American Steel is inspirational. To have a meeting point in which minds can collaborate, regardless of culture or belief allows unfathomable creativity. It’s a place that every city should have, a spot for creativity to grow.

AM : What is your next big adventure?
AW : I had a couple adventure ideas rolling around in my head after being immersed into all that’s American Steel. I am still getting a grasp on the possibility that i can indulge in one of them. My “adventure possibility” just got a lot bigger. I need to step back a little for some learning. Once i’ve determined what it will become I’ll take anything head on if it comes my way.
AM : Thank you for your time, Alex. Now, get back to work!

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