Alexandra Fresch (she, her, hers) is an independent artist & glass instructor based in Columbus, Ohio. She is the assistant director at Glass Axis, a nonprofit glass art facility, focusing on the expansion of the Columbus glass art community. After receiving her BFA in 2012 from The Ohio State University, she worked at the Toledo Museum of Art's Glass Pavilion & Cedar Point Amusement Park's Glassblowing Theater. Fresch's work is inspired by nature, fashion, & the Victorian era. Her work primarily uses the flameworking technique of networking to create intricately detailed sculptures that, although appearing delicate, are wearable and challenge the boundaries of glass's fragile nature. Fresch was awarded individual artist grants from GCAC in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022 and 2023.
How do you describe your art and creative process?
I've always had a love of theater and costuming, watching these extravagant combinations portray a story. Although my art had Victorian influences and feminine aspects, it wasn't until I participated in my first glass fashion show that a creative fire was lit and my passions collided. I began using glass to make corsets and feminine accessories, bending the glass to mimic my version of the delicate patterns of lace and embroidery.
Glass is unlike any other medium when it comes to its transparency and reflection of light. However, as my art progressed I kept searching for ways to create more delicate sculptures in glass, which seemed impossible, until I learned the technique of flameworking. Using this glassmaking technique, with handheld torches and a specific type of glass, I was finally able to create the large-scale, delicate sculptures that I had imagined.
How do you recharge and/or refine your artistic process?
I am constantly inspired in my art by fashion, whether it be the outfits and accessories of a bygone era or that of the performers on stage. As a lover of performance, going to Broadway musicals and theatrical performances continually reinvigorates my creativity and ideas of what to make next. Living in Columbus I am fortunate to have an abundance of performances, from the PNC Broadway Series to fashion shows to enjoy. Having made numerous glass art wearables, I am continually developing my process through the experience of what made the last piece successful and structurally stable and what to keep in mind moving forward. I am also fortunate to work among talented glass artists at Glass Axis, that are always willing to lend a hand or bounce ideas off of. Having this community and communication with other talented artists is very important to the success of my making process and all artists in general.
What do you love about your art and/or art making practice?
Glass has an innate magic and mystery about it. I love that I can create something out of this vicious material that you cannot touch with your hands but it captures movement and a moment in time while you shape and manipulate what is essentially lava into something entirely different. I also enjoy the challenge that glass is. It requires the effort of your entire body to make and you will never bored because you are constantly learning while working with it in order to make your vision come to life. And it is that relationship with the material and with your partner, as glass is a team sport, that makes working in glass unlike any other medium.
What is the best advice that you have been given?
I think some of the best advice I've gotten was actually recently. I started learning glass making from an Italian Maestro Gianni Toso and he told me you are always a student, even he himself, views himself as a student. You should always keep learning, and having that mindset, keeps you open to improvement which facilitates limitless creativity; because when you aren't afraid to fail trying new things, you will become a better person and artist.
What question to you get asked often about your art?
My glass being wearable, people often ask me how fragile it is.I am happy to surprise them by explaining that glass is much stronger than people think, especially if you consider how much we use it in our daily lives. My wearable pieces have many connections just like a spider's web and therefore each connection strengthens the integrity of the overall piece and if one fails, the rest will hold it together. Plus, in using borosilicate glass, I can easily repair it.