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Preston Singletary



Schantz Galleries c o n t e m p o r a r y

a r t

Inward Journey

2013 Blown and Sand Carved Glass 27” x 19.5” x 5.5”


“What is real is not the external form, but the essence of things.”

– Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)


The 1984 MOMA exhibition “Primitivism in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern” was a groundbreaking exposition of how Modern artists endeavored to harness what they perceived as native cultures’ idealized connection to nature and the “essence of things.” A hierarchy was presumed; primitive art was utilitarian craft offering formal and spiritual inspiration for the Modern artist, who then consciously explored abstra ction of form, economy of color, and manipulation of medium in search of meaning. Today, Preston Singletary not only blurs that hierarchical line but symbiotically embodies the philosophy of the Modern artist with the spirit of a native individual. Singletary visualizes narratives directly learned from his Tlingit heritage through the formal language of Modernism. Further, like the masters of the Modernist era did with painting and sculpture, Singletary approaches his medium and his story in a non-mimetic, purely original way. Exploring the ancient symbols of his Tlingit culture through glass may be unprecedented but the two are, in fact, quite compatible. Turning molten liquid glass into meaningful form is a metaphor for the Native American mythology of transformation, where spirits take the form of animals, who then become symbolic guides on earth. Singletary is a member of the matrilineal group Kaagwaantaan, for whom the wolf is the foundational symbol. In Two Wolves and the Moon, a pair of sand carved wolves mirrors one another on a gorgeously arced, amber colored base, their snouts holding up the glowing and pearlescent moon (another predominant symbol in Tlingit lore). Singletary suffuses the sculpture with moonlight by harnessing the luminescence of glass; like a true Modernist, he uses the mechanical properties of the medium in service to the allegory of the artwork.


Singletary’s work has a powerful immediacy by which the “essence” of an object is deftly expressed—through simplification of sculptural form, use of a limited palette, manipulation of the object’s inner light, and surface decoration comprised of the primary shapes of Tlingit design. Thunderbird’s reductive figure recalls Brancusi’s Bird in Space, and though Singletary’s representation of a legendary bird is atypical, its purple coloration and exquisite form line combine with this impressive profile to infuse the bird with power and strength. Red Goose is equally graceful in its silhouette, hue, and surface carving. The semi-ovoid Killer Whale Cloak is poetry in blue, artfully characterizing the Tlingit’s reverence for the fabled killer whale, the terrifying natural force sent to safeguard man; this man is protected both literally (by the wearing of the cloak) and figuratively (through the symbolic security of the whale, whose snout point regally to the sky). Preston Singletary’s embrace of native narrative gives the non-native access to a legendary world steeped in history, cultural significance, and reverence for nature and the beautiful. His embrace of glass gives the Tlingit people a new avenue of personal exploration, making ancient stories contemporary and dynamic. As a fine artist and an innate storyteller, Singletary bestows upon us the gift of both “external form” and the “essence of things.”


Killer Whale Cloak

2013 Blown and Sand Carved Glass 19” x 19” x 3”


Red Goose

2013 Blown and Sand Carved Glass 21.5” x 7.5” x 4.5”


Two Wolves and the Moon 2013 Blown and Sand Carved Glass 20.75” x 6” x 4.25”




2013 Blown and Sand Carved Glass 18.5” x 16.5” x 3”


Under the Still Water

2013 Blown and Sand Carved Glass 10.5” x 21.5” x 11”



Journey with Sea Wolf

2012 Blown and Sand Carved Glass 10.5” x 4.5” x 20”


Human Figure

2013 Blown and Sand Carved Glass 14.25” x 6” x 5.5”


A Good Spirit

2013 Blown and Sand Carved Glass 16.25” x 5.5” x 6”




White Swan

2013 Blown and Sand Carved Glass 24” x 10” x 4”


Oystercatcher Rattle

2012 Blown and Sand Carved Glass 22” x 16” x 6”



Preston Singletary BIOGRAPHY Preston Singletary was born in 1963 in San Francisco CA. He was educated at the Pilchuck Glass School and studied with Lino Tagliapietra, Cecco Ongaro, Benjamin Moore, Dorit Brand, Judy Hill and Dan Dailey. Singletary, a Native American of the Tlinkit People, creates unique sculptures which are informed by the stories and images of his people and their tradition in art. Preston has taught, lectured and exhibited internationally since 1989, and is well known and respected for his impressive glass forms utilizing the layering and etching techniques which he developed.


Mayor’s Art Award, Seattle, WA


Honorary doctorate, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA


National Native Artist Exchange Award, New England Foundation for the Arts, Boston, MA


1st Place Contemporary Art, Sealaska Heritage Foundation, “Celebration 2004,” AK


Rakow Commission, Corning Museum of Glass, NY


Purchase Award, Seattle Arts Commission, Seattle, WA


Mayor’s Award and 1st, 2nd, 3rd place, Diversified Arts, Best of Division, Indian Art, NW, Portland, OR


1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place, Diversified Arts, Best of Division, Indian Art NW, Portland, OR; Study Grant, Washington Mutual Foundation, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA


First Place, Diversified Arts, Best of Division, NW, Portland OR


The Jon and Mary Shirley Scholarship, Pratt Fine Arts Center, Seattle, WA


Study Grant, Washington Mutual Foundation, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA

1988, 90 The Glass House Goblet Competition Purchase Award 1985 26

Work Study Grant, The Institute of Alaska Native Arts

PUBLIC AND PRIVATE COLLECTIONS Anchorage Museum at Rasmussen Center, Anchorage, AK The Autry National Center, Los Angeles, CA The British Museum, London, UK The Burke Museum of Natural and Cultural History, University of Washington, Seattle, City of Seattle, Portable Works Collection, Seattle, WA Corning Museum of Glass, Corning NY (Rakow Commission) Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA Ethnografiska Museet, Stockholm, Sweden Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit, MI Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA

Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA Heard Museum of Art, Phoenix, AZ Mint Museum of Art & Design, Charlotte, NC Museum of Art + Design, New York, NY Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA National Museum of the American Indian Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS St. Paul’s Cathedral, Oklahoma City, OK The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY

Fred Jones, Jr, Museum of Art, University of The Museum of Natural History, Anchorage, AK Oklahoma, Norman, OK Washington State Arts Commission, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, WA Olympia, WA Handelsbanken, Stockholm, Sweden

© 2013 Schantz Galleries Publications Photography: Russell Johnson Essay: Jeanne Koles Design: Studio Two 3 Elm Street, Stockbridge, MA 01262


Schantz Galleries c o n t e m p o r a r y

a r t

Preston Singletary ~ Inward Journey  
Preston Singletary ~ Inward Journey  

Exploring the ancient symbols of his Tlingit culture through glass may be unprecedented but the two are, in fact, quite compatible. Turning...