Preston Singletary is an internationally reknowned glass artist who incorporates traditional Pacific Coast elements in his work. He draws upon his Tlingit heritage with a special concentration on motifs found in Chilkat weaving.
Traditional Northwest Coast tribal art uses formlines and ovoids fluid to create work that is vigorous and stylized; paintings, weavings, baskets, masks and totem poles and more. Singletary’s uncommon choice of media–glass and light—invests traditional motifs with breathtaking dimensionality and luminosity.
At Pendleton, we have enormous respect for traditional arts done with traditional materials. Glass was traditionally only used in Native American beading. Anyone viewing Preston Singletary’s work in glass would probably agree with the artist when he says that glass “transforms the notion that Native artists are only best when traditional materials are used.”
Singletary’s show at the Museum of Glass left viewers in a state of awe. See more in this show catalog: ECHOES, FIRE AND SHADOWS
Glass may seem static, but it is extremely visually interactive with its environment. In this excerpt from a documentary by filmmaker Todd Pottinger, Singletary talks about his inspiration, his studio, and the crucial role of light in his work.
And here is his TED talk.
When Preston designed a blanket for the American Indian College Fund, he chose to tell the tale of Raven and the Box of Knowledge. You can see that this design carries the same glowing dimensionality of his art pieces, with ombred stripes of color that meet in the heart of the design to light it from within.
Raven and the Box of Knowledge: This intriguing blanket is based on a work by internationally renowned glass artist Preston Singletary. Mr. Singletary grew up in the Pacific Northwest–both of his great-grandparents were full-blooded Tlingit Indians. His works explore traditional images and legends of his Tlingit heritage translated into glass. The image on this blanket represents Raven, a shape shifter and trickster who often employed crafty schemes to achieve his goals. In the story, the old chief who lived at the head of the Nass River kept his precious treasure –the sun, the moon and the stars– in beautifully carved boxes. Raven steals the light, and making his escape carries the sun in his mouth. The sun is a metaphor for enlightenment or knowledge. The ombred background shades meet in the center in vibrant colors of sun and light. Mr. Singletary’s artworks are included in museum collections from the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC to the Handelsbanken in Stockholm, Sweden. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Seattle Art Museum. A portion of the proceeds from this blanket will be donated to the American Indian College Fund.
See the College Fund blankets here: American Indian College Fund Blankets