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 Preston Singletary  (1964 - )

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Lived/Active: Washington / Sweden      Known for: glass vessels and blown glass, Tlingit imagery

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A member of the Tlingit Alaskan tribe but living in Seattle, Preston Singletary is known for stylized glass vessels in classical Tlingit forms and imagery, especially the rain-hat, a conical form with etched surface of symbols.  Because glass is so permanent, he sees that medium as a way of preserving Tlingit designs, but his pieces are unusual because traditionally tribal members have worked in wood, carving masks, totem poles, vessels and bowls.

He is the first Northwest Coast Native American artist to be trained at the prestigious Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, and is considered a bridge artist between the modern world and his Tlingit people.

His interest in glass began with his friendship with Dante Marioni, who became a well-known glass artist.  Marioni helped Singletary get a job as a night watchman at the Glass Eye, now Benjamin Moore, and one of Seattle's first class glass studios.  There he saw glass masters that inspired him, and by 1984, he enrolled at Pilchuck, working as an assistant to the legendary Dale Chihuly.  By the early 1990s, he began to earn a reputation for quality work and even taught a workshop at the Kosta Boda glass factory in Sweden.

Although he doesn't consider himself a surrealist, he is interested in that type of expression and discovered that surrealists were interested in Northwest Coast Native American imagery because it explored the world of the subconscious.

Singletary is a student of the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and has an avid interest in the relationship between the mind and art, and his Tlinglit hat form symbolizes a connection between his past work and a new direction.


Source:
Southwest Art

Biography from Blue Rain Gallery:
"Glass brings another dimension to Native American art. It's luminous quality and shadow effect are like a spirit that appears when the lighting is right."
-Preston Singletary

In a unique meeting of European glass-blowing traditions with Native Northwest Coast designs, Preston Singletary's richly detailed and beautifully hued glass artwork depicts cultural and historical images from his Tlingit ancestry. His traditional Native Northwest Coast designs are infused with a fresh energy stemming from the use of modern materials like glass, although his work continues to pay homage to his forefathers, who feel that the past, present and future are intertwined.

Singletary entered the world of glass blowing as an assistant, learning to master the techniques of European traditions as he worked alongside Seattle-based artists like Benjamin Moore and Dante Marioni. He also had opportunities to learn the secrets of the Venetian glass masters while working with Italian maestros, Lino Tagliapietra, Pino Signoretto, and others. In an early and fortuitous trip to Sweden to study Scandinavian design at Kosta Boda, Singletary met his future wife, who now resides in Seattle with him and their two children.

Singletary grew up hearing traditional Tlingit stories from his family (both of his great-grandparents were full-blooded Tlingit) and many of those stories still provide inspiration for his current work today. The form-line aesthetic that is iconic of Native Northwest Coast designs is clearly evident in many of his pieces; Singletary familiarized himself with the form-line aesthetic through study and collaboration with other prominent Northwest Coast artists such as Steve Brown and Joe David. Singletary credits his mentor, Joe David, for helping him to take his work to a new level--one that is more spiritually based and culturally representative of the variety of tribes within the Northwest Coast regional style of Native art. As such, supernatural beings, transformation themes, animal spirits, shamanism, and basketry designs, are among his many sources of artistic inspiration.

Singletary's artworks are recognized with inclusion in museum collections such as the National Museum of the American Indian (Washington DC), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), The Brooklyn Museum of Art (Brooklyn, NY) 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 Handelsbanken (Stockholm, Sweden).

Singletary is a current member of the Board of Trustees for Pilchuck Glass School and the Seattle Art Museum.

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