Internationally known glass artist Preston Singletary has loaned 25 signature creations from his private collection to the Hutchinson Center. The art, formerly part of the touring exhibition "Preston Singletary: Echoes, Fire and Shadows," is now on display in the Weintraub Building's Great Hall, Pelton Auditorium, B1 and Sze conference rooms, and Director's Office. There is also a piece in the 1100 Eastlake Building lobby.
Singletary, who works from a studio on the Fred Hutch campus, is one of the premier Northwest Coast Native glass artists. It's a form of expression he discovered on his way to becoming a professional musician.
Born in San Francisco and raised in Seattle, Singletary developed an interest in working in glass after meeting the son of pioneering Studio Glass artist Paul Marioni. After he finished high school, a night-shift job at a glass studio evolved into an opportunity to blow glass and shape pieces that incorporated ash from the eruption of Mount Saint Helens. His daytime pursuit of a career in music gave way to self-study, training at the Pilchuck Glass School and working with artists in Italy, Sweden and Finland.
The book that accompanied the full "Echoes" exhibition states that during his period of artistic development, Singletary straddled the worlds of contemporary design and Tlingit iconography.
"I started working with Tlingit designs to find my own voice," said Singletary, who began combining Northwest Coast design with glass in 1987. A decade later he committed to expressing his Tlingit ancestry in glass full time.
Today Singletary's art features themes of transformation, animal spirits and shamanism through blown glass and sand-carved Tlingit designs.
"My work with glass transforms the notion that Native artists are only best when traditional materials are used," Singletary said. "It's sort of a reclamation process ... affirming that we are still here—that we are declaring who we are through our art in connection to our culture."
The pieces on loan indefinitely to Fred Hutch comprise the largest display of Singletary's glass art in Seattle. The Museum of Glass in Tacoma showcased the "Echoes" exhibition from summer 2009 to spring 2011.
Singletary's artworks are included in museum collections around the world, including The British Museum in London, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Seattle Art Museum. Singletary also teaches and lectures internationally.