Next Up Columbus 2024: Alexandra Fresch

Alexandra Fresch
Alexandra Fresch

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Fresch

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Alexandra Fresch
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Age: 34
Profession: Assistant Director, Glass Axis
Neighborhood: Dublin
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts, concentration in glass from The Ohio State University
Community Involvement: Glass Axis, Experience Columbus Insider (ECI), Wild Goose Creative, Columbus Arts Marketing Association, COSI – After Dark Events, Glass Art Society, Franklinton Board of Trade, Franklinton Arts District, Ohio Art League, 2023 COSI STEM Star
Motto: Something that has always resonated with me is to follow what you’re passionate about and don’t be afraid to put in the work; things will fall into place. Additionally, my mother always said “Be nice to everyone and show kindness”. I believe this is crucial advice to follow for bringing more joy into our lives. You never know how an act of kindness might cement a relationship that leads to future opportunities.
Connect: Instagram | Personal Website

Give us a snapshot of your path
After taking glass classes in high school, I was hooked on the medium and pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts in glass at The Ohio State University. During the summers throughout college, I ran the Glassblowing Theatre at Cedar Point Amusement Park, doing public glassblowing demonstrations by day and riding roller coasters by night.

After graduating, I worked at both Cedar Point and the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion, where I conducted public glassblowing demonstrations and taught hands-on glassblowing workshops. Seeking more year-round opportunities, I moved to Columbus, a city known for its great appreciation and support for the arts, and a sizable glass art community. I began working at Glass Axis when they first moved to their Town Street location, starting as a volunteer unpacking boxes.

Ten years later, I’m now helping pack boxes as we move to a new studio space in Franklinton – truly a full-circle moment. Looking back over the past decade, it’s wild to realize I’ve gone from running our social media accounts to a leadership role becoming the Assistant Director. Now, I’m excited to help lead Glass Axis into the future with a fresh start in a new facility. I’m also happy to announce that along with this move, Glass Axis is rebranding and will soon be known as the Columbus Glass Art Center.

What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
My genuine love for what I do. Despite the challenges that come with operating a nonprofit, I both enjoy and look forward to going into the studio every day to see the positive impact our work has on people’s lives. Over the years I have made many meaningful relationships, which is part of what makes our tight-knit community so special. It make me feel incredibly fortunate to be in a career that I’m passionate about, and makes every day on the job worthwhile.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
Throughout my career at Glass Axis I have been fortunate to have amazing mentors. My former boss, Rex Brown and my current boss Melody Reed, have both played significant roles in my development. They trusted me to build new programming and business models for our organization, which strengthened me to grow as a leader and realize what I capable of accomplishing.

This mentorship has empowered me to initiate and lead several impactful programs. I’m proud to have started the Fantastical Creatures program where we turn kids’ 2-D drawings into 3-D sculptures. I initiated the Summer Visiting Artist Workshops, where we bring in renowned glass artists from all over the world to teach specialized classes while broadening our glass art community.

I also implemented a training program for new instructors, providing them the necessary skill-building and teaching experience to become confident instructors. This ensures our guests have a safe and fun hands-on experience in our glass classes. Currently, I am working on launching a Studio Assistantship Program, giving recently graduated students an opportunity to gain technical and practical experience working in a professional glass studio.

My biggest challenge and hopefully proudest achievement will be the role I played in helping Glass Axis successfully secure and relocate into a new facility. This move was necessitated by the gentrification of the Franklinton Arts District into a residential hot spot. Additionally, I am working with a team to rebrand Glass Axis to the Columbus Glass Art Center as it moves toward a new chapter, cementing its legacy as a professionally run organization that has been a cornerstone of the glass arts community in central Ohio since 1987.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
At home I unwind by cuddling with my four cats while binge-watching various TV shows. To recharge my life battery, my husband and I escape to Disney for a long weekend a few times a year, to soak up the sun and enjoy some free time without life’s obligations. I also enjoy starting my day going to Friendship Fitness in Dublin. I joke it’s a way to ensure I don’t have extra energy to stress over the little things at work.

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
I absolutely love going to the Ohio Theatre to see the Broadway shows. I have had season tickets for 10 years and it’s great to see all the shows that come to Columbus staged in such a gorgeous theatre.

Living in Dublin, I enjoy riding my bike to Bridge Park on a nice day, or heading to nearby by Powell to get tiki drinks at the Huli Huli. Working in Franklinton, we always go to Tommy’s diner and our new studio building will be right behind it! Exploring new bars and restaurants that open in central Ohio is always on my weekend plans with friends.

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
As a kid I loved nature and animals so I always thought I would pursue veterinary sciences. Looking back, I realized I always wanted arts and craft kits for birthdays and Christmas, so it’s no surprise that I ultimately followed a career in the arts. However in 2023 when I was named one of COSI’s STEM Stars, I was reminded the close connection between art and science in glass. In some ways, I’ve become the scientist I always thought I’d be.

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
While Harry Potter audiobooks have always been my go-to for staying sane during cross-country drives, my usual listening routine involves the audio of TV shows while I’m flameworking. Flameworking is the process of using a torch to melt and sculpt glass. Currently, I have been enjoying listening to episodes of Supernatural as my background soundtrack while I create glass art.

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
I am immensely humbled to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award. It came as a complete surprise as there are so many talented, influential young professionals in this city. My life as an artist and as a leader in an arts organization are often intertwined, so it is an honor to be recognized in this capacity as a business professional.

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
The pulse of Columbus is the energy created by the students who come here to attend university and the young professionals that move here to pursue careers. This constantly breathes new life in to the city, rejuvenating it with fresh ideas and new perspectives. It’s this pulse of new life that, in my opinion, makes Columbus the best place to live in Ohio.

The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2024 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Edison Brewing Co. for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2024” »


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