Welded sculpture by Adrian Rodriguez

Adrian Rodriguez
has been a lifelong artist, but it was only after discovering The Crucible with the help of his high school teacher, did he start realizing his full potential as an industrial artist. In this interview with writer, Sarah Dabby, Adrian takes us on his artistic journey and offers pithy advice for getting ready for the 8th Annual Fire & Light: Soirée and Art Auction — “Bring some money! And dress nicely.” Well said, Adrian! Though we would also add — expect the spectacular!

Sarah Dabby: Let’s start with the basics.

Adrian Rodriguez: My name is Adrian Rodriguez. I was born in Oakland and raised in Richmond, right outside the iron triangle. I went to Richmond High School.

SD: How’d you discover The Crucible?

AR: My English teacher, Ms. Rooney, thought I had really good artistic potential, so one day she gave me an application to this place called The Crucible.  I signed it and gave it to her the next day, and I thought, “Why would anyone name a place The Crucible?  Was it after a book?”  I didn’t know anything about it, but I gave the application to her, and that summer, I took blacksmithing and ARC Welding.

SD: Why do you think Ms. Rooney gave you an application?

AR: She saw my drawings, and she hadn’t seen my drawings before – so she thought I had good potential to be an artist, and an industrial artist.

SD: How long have you been drawing?

AR: As long as I can remember – on my earliest memories, I was scribbling on my mom’s walls. She was probably mad at me!

SD: What classes did you start with at The Crucible?

AR: My first class was blacksmithing.  I had been growing my hair out long, and it was really hot in there.  The first day it was about 95-100 degrees, so I’d go to the fan every time I put my metal into the heat.  So I was glad I had welding; it was in cold air with cement and metal…I was really happy to work in welding.

SD: What was your first day like?

AR: I was hooked. Both Blacksmithing and ARC Welding paved the way for me to join The Crucible.  Blacksmithing, you use tools to make tools.  The blacksmiths were the ‘cool people’ back in the day, so that’s fun.  I like welding better in a way – I draw, and I’m able to manipulate the metal to make my drawings 3-D.

SD: Tell me about your first sculpture, and how you’ve grown since then.

AR: My first sculpture is a little man.  It was supposed to be 3-D, but it’s 2-D in a way. I keep it in my house.  Since then, I think I’ve made a total of 15-16 sculptures, and the ones I’ve been doing recently – I can’t believe I made them, in a way.  I just look back, and think ‘man, I actually made this,’ to the point that I’m really happy.  I’ve sold about 6 or 7 sculptures, which is also fun.

SD: How has The Crucible supported you through this artistic journey?

AR: It’s crazy because I still know my first instructors, and they still help me. They gave me a lot of pointers…it helps me make my work better in my way. One of my instructors is helping me make an application to college.  Everyone here is helpful.  The faculty, everyone, have been really supportive.

SD: Do you feel a sense of community?

AR: Oh yeah. Even people outside The Crucible know how much this place helps the community.  Like the Bike-A-Thon: It helps kids with their bikes, and gives them knowledge about their bikes.  I took a class there, and it was a lot of fun.

SD: We’re coming up to Soiree, which is the annual fundraiser and gala for The Crucible.  Why is it important that people come to Soiree and support The Crucible?

AR: The Soiree is one of the biggest nights at The Crucible, because that’s when people and donors come together and give money to The Crucible. It’s great to see the outcome of it.  One of the instructors said that I’m the outcome of the scholarships, in a way – taking the space of The Crucible for the greater good.

SD: What would you say to people thinking of coming to Soiree?

AR: Bring some money!  And dress nicely.

SD: Any advice for students like you who are thinking of coming here?

AR: I would say, try and volunteer here, or take a class.  For me, I had nowhere to go artistically – but this place showed me how to take my artwork and put it in a different dimension. So I would say come here, and make art, and make art cool, and have fun with it.