October

Raven Skyriver & Preston Singletary

Our featured October artists translate and honor their Indigenous heritage through the medium of glass. Both from the Tlingit Nation, they approach their work from different angles: one through the lens of ecosystem and animal-life; the other through Northwest Coast mythology and traditional objects.

Raven Skyriver (Tlingit) presents an exhibition of blown and hot-sculpted glass marine animals from oceans and river systems that are threatened by pollution, ocean acidification, and over-fishing. Skyriver uses the techniques he has learned from blowing with William Morris and other glass luminaries to render lifelike creatures, giving us eye-to-eye encounters with deep sea creatures we don’t often see.

He is joined by fellow Washington glassblower Preston Singletary (Tlingit), who presents works in glass, bronze and on paper. Singletary uses intricate Northwest Coast formline design to render shamanic implements, woven hats and baskets, and legendary characters in glass. Singletary is known for his collaborations with indigenous artists from around the world, and in this exhibition he presents two collaborations with master carver Joe David (Nuu-chah-nulth) who also acted as a mentor to Skyriver in his youth and throughout his career.

We are particularly honored to present the first collaborative work between Skyriver and Singletary in this exhibit. In summer of 2019 the two met at Ben Moore’s venerable glass studio (shown in photo at left) and blew a number of works together for the first time. Skyriver, the younger of the pair, writes about the impact of collaborating with Singletary:

“I have known Preston for as long as I have been working in glass, approximately twenty years. 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…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.”

Exhibition Dates:

September 30, 2019 - October 27, 2019

Featured Works

Photo credits: works by Raven Skyriver are photographed by Sezayi Erken. Sculptural works by Preston Singletary and collaborative pieces photographed by Russell Johnson.

About the Artists:

Singletary and Skyriver are part of the larger movement of Indigenous artist working in glass on the Northwest Coast. Collectively, this movement is known as Northwest Native Art Glass, and includes contemporary artists from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. Stonington Gallery is proud to be in the vanguard of Northwest Native Art Glass, representing many of these artists year-round.

This is exhibition is part of the larger Refract Seattle festival.

RAVEN SKYRIVER:

Skyriver started blowing glass in high school. His mentor, Lark Dalton, taught him the basics of traditional Venetian glass, as well as how to build equipment. With this knowledge Skyriver built a basic studio at home in order to create small cane worked vessels. Born in 1982, he is one of Stonington’s youngest artists. After graduating from high school he traveled to Venice, Italy to take a course with Davide Salvadore, to further his understanding of Venetian technique. Soon after, he had the opportunity to work with Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen at Pilchuck Glass, and through this experience was invited to join the William Morris Team. He was able to work with Morris during the final years of his career, learning the unique techniques utilized in the production of his seminal work. Skyriver has worked with Lino Tagliapietra’s glass team in Brazil, joining one of the best production teams in the world under the direction of a maestro.

Working with teams of anywhere from 3 to 10 people, Skyriver is able to realize sculptures of a size and weight that would daunt many glassblowers. He sculpts all of his creatures while the glass is molten hot, which takes precision, focus, and perfect timing. If the sculptures make it through the blowing, sculpting, and cooling process—and many do not—they can be sandblasted, engraved or ground to add detail.

Skyriver’s inspiration is drawn from nature. The challenge of realism is what makes working sculpturally alluring to him. He states, “The marine creatures I create lend themselves to the fluidity of glass, and its reflective nature.  Using these native animals I hope to evoke the excitement of the salmon running, or the miracle of a whale migrating 5,000 miles. I also want to draw into question the balance of nature. How does the presence of these creatures affect us? What does the future hold for these animals?”

In 2011 he was invited to take part in a residency with glass artist Martin Janecky in Pittsburgh, and had his own residency at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA. In 2012 he was presented with the “Artists’ Choice Award” and the “Peoples’ Choice Award” at the Red Hot Auction at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA. His work was some of the only American glass to be included in a large multinational exhibition at the Ebeltoft Glass Museum in Denmark in 2013. In 2014 Skyriver was invited to be an artist in residence at Emporia State University in Kansas. In 2015 he taught and blew glass in Japan, Denmark and Turkey.

Stonington Gallery has produced a number of digital exhibition catalogs for Raven Skyriver:

 

PRESTON SINGLETARY:

Preston Singletary

The art of Preston Singletary has become synonymous with the relationship between European glass blowing traditions and Northwest Native art. His artworks feature themes of transformation, animal spirits, and shamanism through elegant blown glass forms and mystical sand carved Tlingit designs.

Singletary learned the art of glass blowing by working with artists in the Seattle area including Benjamin Moore and Dante Marioni. As a student and assistant, he initially focused on mastering the techniques of the European tradition. His work took him to Kosta Boda (Sweden) where he studied Scandinavian design and met his future wife. Throughout his over thirty years of glass blowing experience, he has also had opportunities to learn the secrets of the Venetian glass masters by working with Italian legends Lino Tagliapietra, Cecco Ongaro, and Pino Signoretto. In 2010, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the University of Puget Sound.

Recognized internationally, Singletary’s artworks are included in museum collections such as The British Museum (London, UK), The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), The Seattle Art Museum (Seattle WA), the Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY), the Mint Museum of Art and Design (Charlotte, NC), the Heard Museum (Phoenix, AZ), and the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC).

Singletary maintains an active schedule by teaching, lecturing, and exhibiting internationally. In 2009, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, launched a major mid-career survey of his work, entitled Preston Singletary: Echoes, Fire, and Shadows. In 2018 he launched a new traveling exhibition with the Museum of Glass, titled Raven and the Box of Daylight, which pushed the boundaries of glass as a medium for storytelling. The exhibit is now on the road to Wichita and Washington, DC.