Preston Singletary was meant to create Native American inspired glass. He’s been able to meld two aspects of his Tlingit ancestry into his art. As a child, Singletary listened with fascination to traditional stories told by his great-grandparents, who were both full Tlingit. Their myths and legends became an inspiration for his work. Additionally, the tribe used glass to craft beads which were used not only for currency, but for adorning clothing and ceremonial objects.
Singletary was first introduced to glassmaking as a teenager. A friend’s father was a glass artist; since Singletary spent considerable time at their home, he became acquainted with several of the older man’s contemporaries.
He learned his craft through practical experience at Seattle’s The Glass Eye and by attending workshops at Pilchuck Glass School.
A turning point in his style occurred when “I realized that there was a lot of dialogue about how modern art was influenced by art of ‘primitive’ societies. These artists tried to embody the spirit of the objects created by other cultures. My work began to take on a more figurative and narrative style with a new intent. I found a source of strength and power that brought me back to my family, society, and cultural roots.”
Who/what inspires you?
Today my inspiration comes from the Native culture and environment of the northwest, as well as the glass community and all the creativity in the Seattle area.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?
My biggest challenge is making glass have the same spirit as the old Tlingit art.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My most proud accomplishment is that I found a loving wife, Asa, and that we have two lovely kids, Orlo and Lydia as well as an older daughter Sienna.
How do you measure success?
I measure success by being able to make a living as an artist and being able to sustain that.
What is the most memorable compliment you have received?
The most memorable compliment I ever got was when I was adopted by Joe David and he shared his Indian name with me. On the northwest coast you can receive additional names throughout your life which usually comes with growth and maturity.
What is one thing people don’t generally know about you?
One thing people don’t know about me is that I thought I’d be a professional musician as a living.