Preston Singletary at Museum of Glass
By Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, Feb. 21, 2019
|installation view of the exhibition with works in various media including blown and sand-cast glass, metal, neon lighting and video projections, all objects by Preston Singletary, courtesy of the artist.|
Raven and the Box of Daylight at Museum of Glass is a dramatic presentation in glass art of one of the more enduring stories in the Tlingit tradition as created by internationally renowned artist Preston Singletary.
Singletary is a Tlingit American from the Pacific Northwest. He studied glass art in residencies in Sweden and studied under international glass artists in Vienna. His artworks are featured in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian; British Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Seattle Art Museum; The Corning Museum of Glass, New York; and Heard Museum, Phoenix, and in other collections and exhibitions. He is known for combining traditional Native American art and imagery with modern glass art
As a youngster, Singletary listened to traditional stories passed down in the Tlingit culture as told by his great-grandparents. His work celebrates this Indigenous culture using Tlingit design principles with objects that incorporate elements from the natural world to tell stories and histories of individual families.
Generations of Tlingit children have heard the story of Raven’s adventure, according to the exhibition curator, Miranda Shkik Belarde-Lewis, a Tlingit/Zuni Indian. “The story of Raven releasing or ‘stealing’ the daylight is one of the most iconic stories of the Tlingit People of Southeast Alaska,” Belarde-Lewis says. “The Tlingit name for Raven is Yéil. Many people know the basic story, yet there are variations unique to specific villages and individual storytellers. We examined five of them, all from Tlingit storytellers. Each of the stories emphasizes different aspects of the same story.”
Raven leads visitors on a journey through the transformation of darkness into light. Different aspects of the Raven story are told through carved and cast glass sculptures of the animals, people, and land of the Tlingit people with music and video projections of water, trees and sky. Each individual piece is beautifully displayed with low lighting and highlights on each object. In one room of the museum the “ClanHouse” is depicted with two life-size human figures in Native garb and a long wooden shelf upon with are placed traditional vessels and sculptures of birds, fish and human figures. In the “WorldDaylight” room 10 busts of stately Indians are displayed on black sculpture stands with a projected backdrop of river, land and sky in brilliant tones of midnight blue. Each room theatrically displays aspects of or variations on the same story.
This is more than just an art exhibit; it is an immersive theatrical experience. No ending date has been set, but the show will run throughout 2019.
Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight , 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, through 2019, $15 adults, $13 students and seniors, free for military and children 5 and younger, free Third Thursday from 5-8 p.m., Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, 253.272.4258, www.tacomaartmuseum.org.