Off-The-Clock with Alfred White
Alfred White’s heart belongs to art.
White, a member of UCOP’s External Relations department, was one of eight Bay Area artists selected to design a 5-foot, 400-pound fiberglass heart for a San Francisco citywide art installation and fundraiser for the San Francisco General Hospital. The hearts will be on display at Union Square, Huntington Park, Mission Creek Park and Yerba Buena Gardens from February 11 through Labor Day.
Link went one-on-one with White to learn about his passion for art, and what it was like to design his giant, fiberglass heart.
How did you come up with the design for your heart?
I really liked the results of a piece I was commissioned to do by a former UC colleague, so I evolved that style and applied it to the heart.
Most of my art, just like the heart, is minimalist, abstract or figurative abstract. I’m partial to vivid color, shapes, and dividing and compartmentalizing things, so you’ll see that reflected in the final design. I also enjoy mixing media, so the heart is comprised of glass, gel mediums, pebbles, sand and acrylic paint.
Tell us about the design process for your heart.
First I did a lot of visualization and painting in my head. Initially the heart was so intimidating—it took me three weeks of just looking at it (or ignoring it all together) until I started working on it! After three weeks of staring at the heart, it took me a couple more weeks to do the drafting. Once I jumped in and started painting, I worked most evenings for a month straight to complete the design.
The heart is so big — where did you find space to work on it?
I used Charles Jackson’s garage to paint the heart. (Charles is a Principal Administrative Analyst in UCOP’s Strategic Resource Coordination Team.) When I got to the final phase and began putting lacquer on the heart, Charles accused me of trying to asphyxiate him with the fumes from the finishing products.
Why did you become interested in becoming an artist?
I’ve been involved in some form of the arts throughout my adult life. However, I never thought of myself as an actual artist until about a year or so ago. I began making visual art because I needed something to fill my walls — collecting art can be an expensive endeavor! It’s also a good way to spend my down time and release tension. Also, when I would visit my niece and nephew they would always be having fun with something on an easel. I wanted to have some fun too, so watching them paint gave me the idea of making my own paintings.
Do you sell your art?
My art work is starting to outgrow my space, so I’ve begun selling some of it. I have shown pieces around the area at Joyce Gordon Gallery in Oakland, the now defunct UC ArtReach Program in Fresno, and Merritt College (where I’ve studied painting) and at the Spring Art Show at the Peralta Colleges District Office. At one point we were discussing displaying art and photography here at UCOP, and I’d like to explore that again.
You also have some other talents. Tell us about them.
All of my art is informed by my interest in writing, performing, the visual arts and fashion. I received a degree in Fashion Journalism & Sales Promotions from the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, received a Certificate in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater, studied writing at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, and I am a Co-Chair of the Music and Fine Arts Department at Love Center Ministries in Oakland. I’m very gratified with experiences at Love Center where I am producing and directing art shows and theatrical productions and training actors. The more I do and the more I apply my talents, the more I discover what I’m able to do.
[Editors note: Link will update you on the location of White’s heart.]