Preston Singletary

"When I began working with glass, I had no idea that I'd be so connected to the material in the way that I am." A life-long friendship with Dante Marioni, now a fellow glass artist too, first introduced Singletary to the medium: hanging out in his father's glass studio in Wallingford and later having secured him a position as a night watchman at Seattle's Glass Eye Studio. When he moved to the day-shift, he began to hone his craft learning from glass artists in the studio. Concurrently he became more curious about his heritage: the history and culture of the Tlingit people, their art and craft, especially form line which uses large curves, ovals and sweeping shapes that may appear abstract but depict birds, fish and mammals, the protagonists and symbols of Tlingit stories. Naturally his medium and his story collided in his art. "I often think of a genetic memory that was awakened. The more you know, the deeper you reach inside to pull something out."

Traditionally Tlingit artists had an abundance of natural materials to use: cedar for carving, bark and grasses for boxes and clothing. As materials have become more scarce, contemporary artists like Preston Singletary are expressing Tlingit craftsmanship and designs through non-traditional materials. "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 we are declaring who we are through our art in connection to our culture." Singletary refined a sand blasting technique that allows him to draw ravens, whales and eagles, then blast away the top layers to create multi-colored glass renditions of traditional baskets, masks and ceremonial screens. He has grown into the role of "ambassador of glass", now teaching and collaborating in glass with other Native American, Maori, Hawaiian and Australian Aboriginal artists and discovering the potential of glass and how it brings another dimension to indigenous art. "Everybody has a story, everybody comes from somewhere. You have to know your story. Unlocking the freedom in your own life so that you can do the things you're meant to do."

Featured Artwork in Preston Singletary: Echoes, Fire, and Shadows (2009: Museum of Glass):
Clan House. 2008,, Tacoma. Kiln-cast and sandcarved glass.
Soul Catcher. 2001,, Tacoma. Blown and sandcarved glass, iridized black bullseye glass inlay, hand-woven cedar-bark.
Oystercatcher Rattle. 2006,, Tacoma. Blown, hot-sculpted and sandcarved glass.
Shaman's Amulet. 2007,, Tacoma. Blown, hot-sculpted and sandcarved glass.
Customized Martin Guitar. 2008,, Tacoma. Hand-painted spruce soundboard.
Indian Curio Shelves. 2008,, Tacoma. Blown, overlay and sandcarved glass.
Killer Whale Ancestor Mask. 2008,, Tacoma. Mold-blown, hot-sculpted and sandcarved glass.
Breaching Killer Whale. 2008,, Tacoma. Blown and sandcarved glass.
Eagle and Raven Dance Staffs. 2008,, Tacoma. Blown and sandcarved glass, human hair, steel pole.
Eagle Transformation Mask. 2008,, Tacoma. Blown and sandcarved glass, metal hinges.
Threshold Amulet. 2008,, Tacoma. Blown and sandcarved glass, hot-sculpted glass bones, cedar-bark ties.
Woodworm Amulet. 2008,, Tacoma. Blown, hot-sculpted and sandcarved glass.