Seattle artist Preston Singletary will be featured in two solo shows opening this March on opposite coasts: at Traver Gallery Tacoma, where “Contents of a Dream” opened last Saturday, and at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City, where “Echoes, Fire, and Shadows” will open on March 19th. One specific piece included in the Traver exhibit “Raven-Shaped Human,” embodies the two most significant foundations of Singletary’s work. The blown and sand carved half-human/ half-raven sculpture pays homage to traditional Native American artists’ attention to the connection between man and the spiritual world, while also combining European glassworking techniques and Native American wood carving designs. Like this sculpture, the body of work featured in both exhibits will reflect Singletary’s modern interpretation of ancient Northwest Coast Native culture through the contemporary medium of European-inspired glassworking.
In the mid-1980s, Singletary began working with glass at the Pilchuck Glass School. As his career progressed he became heavily involved in the glass community, working with Washington artist Benjamin Moore and in Lino Tagliapietra’s hot shop. Although his initial focus was on glassblowing and Venetian-style glassworking, his career took a turn as when he became inspired by Native American culture. After delving deep into the study of primitivism and his own genealogy (Singletary’s can trace one branch of his family history to the Tlingit tribe), Singletary found himself exploring a connection between Native American tribal art and his sandblasted, cold-worked glass sculptures.
Singletary has developed a body of work representative of the Native American connection between nature and man by transferring the design onto his characterization of Native American objects such as rattles, baskets, bentwood boxes, and sculptures made from glass.
Organized by Tacoma’s Museum of Glass, “Echoes, Fire, and Shadows” will open at the New York’s National Museum of the American Indian March 19th and continue through September 5th. “Echoes, Fire, and Shadows” is a retrospective of Singletary’s work in the midst of his continuing art career. Featuring over 50 of his original works the exhibit will include a blend of pieces produced over the course of his 20-year career, and will include a wall mural made specifically for the show. “Contents of a Dream,” which opened March 5th at Traver Gallery Tacoma will be on display through April 17th. This exhibition displays 17 glass pieces including a number of his baskets, a rattle, and other Tlingit inspired glass sculptures.
For a more in-depth look at Singletary’s concepts and questions raised by his work, see Victoria Josslin’s article titled “Ancestor Worship” in the Fall 2010 issue of GLASS in which she explores Preston’s approach to Northwest Coast Native design through glass, a medium developed by Europeans who share a complex and conflict-ridden history with the Native American tribes.
IF YOU GO:“Contents of a Dream”
Through April 17th
Traver Gallery Tacoma
1821 E Dock Street, Ste. 100
Tacoma, Washington 98402
Tel: 253 383-3685 Website: www.travergallery.com “Echoes, Fire, and Shadows”
March 19 – Sept 5
National Musuem of the American Indian: George Gustav Heye Center
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
One Bowling Green
New York City Tel: 212 514-3700 Website: http://americanindian.si.edu