Preston Singletary: Humanity at the Crossroad
June 20, 2020
My Tlingit name is Cochane. I’m from the Eagle moiety, the Kagwaantan, box housegroup, and my family’s clansymbol is the Killer Whaleand the Brown Bear,we also are related to the Wolf. In the Summer of 2000 I befriended Joe David (Nu Chah Nulth), a respected and established carver from Vancouver Island.
That summer we worked on glass together at the Pilchuck Glass School. I’d been focusing on Northwest coast, and Tlingit styles of art with glass and getting some momentum with my work. When I met Joe David, he exposed me to the sweat lodge ceremony and opened my eyes to Native spirituality as well as deepened my connection to my culture. He shared his name with me which was a unique honor today as it was in the old days.
Joe David also opened my eyes to the minutia of details that informs the work that I do today. From the graphic style to the symbolism and intent. We have traveled the world together, and have worked on many significant projects over the years. His guidance has given immeasurable confidence and we continue to pursue new ideas which is evident in this select body of work.
These guardian spirit figures are very special pieces. They are mentor and mentee collaborations and should be regarded as evolutionary objects with deep roots to the past, but transformed into the medium from the present.
One of Joe’s insights and motivations in working with glass is that the materials we use for the traditional arts are becoming increasingly rare. So you will start to see artists using new mediums to keep the stories alive. Glass is a symbol of transformation. Transforming from a liquid to a solid, and transforming our culture by bringing another dimension to it.
Glass embodies fragility and permanence at the same time. The potential for these pieces to survive hundreds and thousands of years is real. We are keeping the symbols and codes to our culture alive in a new material.