Grantee: Preston Singletary
Native Ancestry: Tlingit
Location: Seattle, Wash.
Award: 2016 National Artist Fellowship
Discipline: Visual Arts
Web Site: prestonsingletary.com
In a career spanning more than thirty-four years, Preston Singletary has become known for integrating glass art with indigenous sculptural art. Singletary believes that as traditional materials become more scarce, the future will lie in new mediums such as glass—that may last thousands of years and help carry forward his Tlingit culture for generations to come. For Singletary glass making is a dynamic process that adds a new dimension to indigenous art.
Preston Singletary sees himself as an advocate for glass, which is a new and transformational medium for indigenous cultures. He has collaborated and shared his process with many different indigenous artists including Native American, Hawaiian, Maori and Australian Aboriginal people.
Singletary’s relationship with glass began in 1982 with commercial glassblowing and led him in 1984 to study glass art at the Pilchuck Glass School founded by the renowned artist Dale Chihuly. There Preston began to experiment with reproducing Tlingit form line designs in glass.
Over the years Singletary has continually learned and expanded his skill and talent by working with other artists, which has been a great opportunity and provided him with excellent practical experience creating new art. He has also sought out mentors from the glass world as well as the Native community to further develop his glass making process, evolving his style to an impressive and meaningful art form. Through the whole journey, Singletary has increased his cultural knowledge and has received both traditional names and inductions to communities as well as an honorary doctorate degree from University of Puget Sound.
Preston challenges himself to continually learn more while sharing his work and cultural knowledge through speaking engagements, and teaching workshops. One of his ambitions is to develop a mentorship program that would perpetuate traditional and contemporary art among Tlingit people.
Support from the NACF National Artist Fellowship enables Singletary to continue production on a current project for a new exhibition. The glasswork will be based on a Tlingit story that will be portrayed through glass sculptures in a theatrical installation that includes video projections.
This will be an opportunity to share this story and my Tlingit culture to a broad audience.
~ Preston Singletary