Whistle – Collaboration with Preston Singletary
Raven Skyriver & Preston Singletary in Collaboration:
“Whistle” is the nickname that was given to L124, one of the most recent Southern Resident orca calves that was born this year. While the piece is created in traditional Northwest formline design and colors, we thought it would be poignant to give it a contemporary context and to shift the focus of the piece to the calf. It is a bright spot in what is an otherwise dismal forecast for our local population of Southern Resident Killerwhales, and a good metaphor of hope, and potential peril that our youngest generations face.”
– Raven Skyriver, 2019.
In August 2o19 the pair joined for their first-ever collaborative blow at the venerable Ben Moore Studio in Seattle. The photos here show Skyriver and Singletary working on one of the whales that would become “Whistle”. Photos by Stonington Gallery. Final photo is of Singletary designing the formline on the whale using a resist that will keep those sections of the glass covered while sand-etching. Photo courtesy of the Singletary studio.
Raven Skyriver on the collaboration:
“Preston and I first started discussing the possibility of a collaborative piece in the spring, when we knew that we were going to be showing together at the Stonington Gallery. Preston and I both share Tlingit heritage, and while my artistic style doesn’t immediately jump out as Northwest Coast, the main body of my work is focused on—and inspired by—the inhabitants of the coastal waters of our ancestral lands.
In this collaboration we strove to marry our two styles to highlight the strengths of each artist. This is why you may notice that the killer whale has none of the characteristic white markings that are often the most readily-identifiable feature of this iconic species. We agreed that this would distract, and potentially detract, from the design work that Preston would later apply. The goal was to make a fluid shape that captured the form of the killer whale, and leave a canvas that was open for Preston’s beautiful design work. As a first-time collaboration I can say I am very happy with the results.
I have known Preston for as long as I have been working in glass, approximately twenty years. Around the time I first started in glass, Preston was coming to my dad’s shop (Kestrel Tool, owned by Gregg Blomberg) and he took a couple of workshops to study Formline Design. Preston had been blowing glass for quite some time already at that point, but he saw my little glass set up in my dad’s forge shop, and the next time he came up for a workshop he brought me a copy of Ed T Schmid’s illustrated, Beginning Glassblowing. It’s a publication that is known and loved in the glassblowing circle. I still remember that as a kind and thoughtful gesture.
Over the years while pursuing my own career, I have always followed Preston’s work, and his ability to always push the boundaries of glass as a medium and contemporary native art, maybe most notably with his big house screen, and his latest monolithic solid cast glass totem poles.
When we first discussed collaborating on some work this last spring, and he was open to the idea, I was pretty stoked to see what we could make happen. Though we have worked in the same circles, I haven’t worked hands-on with Preston before, and being different artists with unique styles, I had some apprehension of the unknown. Of course, once we started working together that all melted away. There was a feeling of mutual respect, sharing of ideas, and a general unhurried laid-back attitude where we both seem to work best. Collaboration is always a gift because it forces you to relinquish control to a certain degree, and the result is always something that diverges from what you could imagine on your own. I welcome these experiences, since it always teaches me something, and is humbling in the best way.”
-Raven Skyriver, 2019