The art of Preston Singletary has become synonymous with the relationship between European glass blowing traditions and Northwest Native art. His artworks feature themes of transformation, animal spirits and shamanism through elegant blown glass forms and mystical sand carved Tlingit designs.
Singletary learned the art of glass blowing by working with artists in the Seattle area including Benjamin Moore and Dante Marioni. As a student and assistant, he initially focused on mastering the techniques of the European tradition. His work took him to Kosta Boda (Sweden) where he studied Scandinavian design and met his future wife. Throughout his 30+ years of glass blowing experience, he has also had opportunities to learn the secrets of the Venetian glass masters by working with Italian legends Lino Tagliapietra, Cecco Ongaro, and Pino Signoretto. In 2010, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the University of Puget Sound.
Now recognized internationally, Singletary’s artworks are included in museum collections such as The British Museum (London, UK), The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), The Seattle Art Museum (Seattle WA), the Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY), the Mint Museum of Art and Design (Charlotte, NC), the Heard Museum (Phoenix, AZ), and the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC). Singletary maintains an active schedule by teaching and lecturing internationally. In 2009, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, launched a major mid-career survey of his work, entitled Preston Singletary: Echoes, Fire, and Shadows. This exhibition featured Clan House, his largest commission to date, and traveled to venues across North America.
When I began working with glass in 1982, I had no idea that I'd be so connected to the material in the way that I am. It was only when I began to experiment with using designs from my Tlingit cultural heritage that my work began to take on a new purpose and direction.
Over time, my skill with the material of glass and traditional form line design has strengthened and evolved, allowing me to explore more fully my own relationship to both my culture and chosen medium. This evolution, and subsequent commercial success, has positioned me as an influence on contemporary indigenous art
Through teaching and collaborating in glass with other Native American, Maori, Hawaiian, and Australian Aboriginal artists, I've come to see that glass brings another dimension to indigenous art. The artistic perspective of indigenous people reflects a unique and vital visual language which has connections to the ancient codes and symbols of the land, and this interaction has informed and inspired my own work.
My work with glass transforms the notion that Native artists are only best when traditional materials are used. It has helped advocate on the behalf of all indigenous people—affirming that we are still here—that that we are declaring who we are through our art in connection toour culture.
My work continues to evolve and connect my personal cultural perspective to current modern art movements, and I have received much attention for striving to keep the work fresh and relevant. I have been honored that my success has inspired other artists from underrepresented indigenous cultures to use glass and other non-traditional materials in their work, and hope that I can continue to encourage more innovation in this area as my career progresses.
2009-2012 Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA – Preston Singletary: Echoes, Fire, and Shadows.Traveled to: National Museum of the American Indian, New York, NY; Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ; Anchorage Museum at Rasmussen Center, Anchorage, AK2010 John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI - Animal Instincts2009 McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, ON – Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast2005 The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington, Seattle, WA – Fusing TraditionsMuseum of Art + Design, New York, NY – Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation, 22004 National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC - Our Universe2003 Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA - Solo Exhibition, ThresholdHeard Museum, Phoenix, AZ – Fusing TraditionsArnot Art Museum, New York - Representing Representation VI2001 Fuller Museum, Brockton, Massachusetts - Lino Tagliapietra et Amici2000 Sheldon Museum, Haines, AK - Traditions in Glass
2012 Traver Gallery, Seattle, WA – Solo Exhibition, ConfluenceBlue Rain Gallery, Santa Fe, NM – Primitive | Elegant II (a collaboration with Dante Marioni)2011 Traver Gallery, Tacoma, WA – Solo Exhibition, Contents of a DreamSchantz Gallery, Stockbridge, MA – Solo Exhibition, Collector’s Weekend ShowcaseSpirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver, BC – Ka Ka Win Chealth: Transformations in Glass (a collaboration with Joe David)Blue Rain Gallery, Santa Fe, NM – Primitive | Elegant (a collaboration with Dante Marioni)2009 Traver Gallery, Seattle, WA – Solo Exhibition, Beyond PrimitivismBlue Rain Gallery, Santa Fe NM – Solo Exhibition2007 Traver Gallery, Tacoma, WA - The Uncle Who Went into the ForestSpirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver, BC – Fire & Water: Pacific Visions in Glass and Jade (a collaboration with Lewis Tamihana Gardiner)2006 Heller Gallery, New York, NY - Solo Exhibition, Raven Steals the Light2004 Instituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere de Arti, Venice, Italy – Vetri. Nel Mondo. Oggi.2001 Chappell Gallery, New York – Solo Exhibition, Glass Potlatch1999 Gallery San Nicolo, Venice, Italy – Solo Exhibition, Current Work Chappell Gallery, Boston, MA – Solo Exhibition, New Work1998 Butters Gallery, Portland, OR - Solo Exhibition1991-1997 The Glass Gallery, Bethesda, MD - Solo Exhibition The West End Gallery, Bethesda, MD - Solo Exhibition