Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight

On view through August 30, 2020

Glass brings another dimension to Native American art. Its luminous quality and shadow effect are like a spirit that appears when the lighting is right.

I wanted to create a sense of drama and myth with this exhibition. I imagined that people might be able to immerse themselves within the story [of Raven].

                                          --Artist Preston Singletary

On a stop between the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Wichita Art Museum presents Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight. The unique exhibition combines extraordinary glass art within an immersive, multi-sensory environment. Art combines with storytelling and theatrical encounter.

The art of internationally regarded Preston Singletary fuses time-honored glassblowing traditions with Pacific Northwest Native art. Specifically, Singletary honors his ancestral Tlingit culture, a tribe centered in southern Alaska.

His art features transformation, animal spirits, basketry designs, and Tlingit form lines. In Tlingit culture, objects that incorporate elements from the natural world tell foundational stories as well as histories of individual native families. Singletary mines this rich past into a seamless fusion of contemporary art, glass, and evolving Tlingit tradition. Raven and the Box of Daylight features those qualities of Singletary's exceptional artmaking that have earned him a sterling international reputation.

Countless generations of Native American children have heard the story of Raven, a bird spirit whose fantastical journey transforms darkness into light. Tlingit oral history has preserved the rich narratives that are foundational for the Northwest culture, and Raven helped shape the world and released the stars, moon, and sun. In the exhibition, this story unfolds as visitors progress through one scene and staged environment more beautiful and arresting than the last. Recordings of storytellers pair with original music and Northwest soundscapes. Projected imagery and theatrical lighting complete the gallery experience.

To create the exhibition, Singletary collaborated with many. Tlingit culture spans a vast territory, and dozens of Raven stories are told throughout the Pacific Northwest, each featuring subtle distinctions. Singletary relied on the scholarship of Walter Porter (American Tlingit, 1944–2013), and he worked with guest curator Dr. Miranda Belarde-Lewis (American Tlingit-Zuni) to shape the compelling, accurate narrative for the exhibition. He also collaborated with multi-media artist Juniper Shuey of the artistic partnership zoe | juniper for the imaginative installation.

Preston Singletary learned glassblowing in the Seattle area working with Dante Marioni, Benjamin Moore, and others. The Pilchuck Glass School in the woods outside Seattle, founded by artist Dale Chihuly, was an important touchstone for honing technique and artistry. Singletary also trained at Kosta Boda in Sweden and with Venetian glass masters including Lino Tagliapietra and Pino Signoretto. The artist has a prized, international following, and his art is included in museum collections including The British Museum in London, National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and Seattle Art Museum, among many others. 

Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight is organized by Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, and Preston Singletary.

TOP: Preston Singletary (American Tlingit ), Xaat (Salmon) (detail), 2018. Blown, hot-sculpted, sand carved glass, steel stand. 89 1/2 x 25 1/2 x 3 inches. Collection of the artist.

ABOVE LEFT: Preston Singletary (American Tlingit), Dleit Yeil (White Raven), 2017. Blown, hot-sculpted, sand-carved glass, steel stand, 16 1/2 x 7 x 9 inches. Collection of the artist. Photo by Russell Johnson

Exhibition Sponsors and Donors

THANK YOU to all of the exhibition sponsors and donors who are making this exhibition possible.

The Wichita presentation has been generously underwritten by presenting sponsor F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust, INTRUST Bank, Trustee. Lead patrons are DeVore Foundation and Mrs. Judy Slawson. Fred and Mary Koch Foundation provided additional major underwriting. Charles E. Baker is a principal sponsor. Emprise Bank is a substantial corporate sponsor.

Generous support has been provided by Louise Beren, Berry Foundation, Donna J. Bunk, Mary Eves, Norma Greever, Dr. Dennis and Mrs. Ann Ross, Mary Sue Smith, Sarah T. Smith, K.T. Wiedemann Foundation, Janice and Jeff Van Sickle, and Sue and Kurt Watson.

Dr. John and Nancy Brammer, Sharon and Alan Fearey, Toni and Bud Gates, Carol and H. Guy Glidden, Patti Gorham and Jeff Kennedy, Sonia Greteman and Chris Brunner, Trish Higgins, Mary and Delmar Klocke, Mary Lynn and Bill Oliver, and Will and Kristin Price are additional exhibition patrons. 

All museum exhibitions receive generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum and the City of Wichita.



Docent Dialogues in the galleries for Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight

WAM is excited to offer more ways to learn about the exhibition and artist with our amazing docents. Join in great conversation and gallery exploration. Free admission.

Look for docents with red Ask Me buttons. No reservation required.

Docent Dialogues are come-and-go from 1 to 3 pm on the following dates:

Saturday, April 25

Artist Talk: Teri Greeves

Thursday, May 21
6 pm | Galleries open before talk
Free admission

How do contemporary Native artists reflect their heritage and convey traditions for today’s audiences? Like Preston Singletary featured at WAM this spring, Teri Greeves (Kiowa) is internationally known for translating her tribal past into exquisite art for the present. Greeves inventively blends abstract, geometric tradition of Kiowa beadwork with the Shoshone pictorial style into her own visual language. Greeves’ work is collected in art museums across Europe and the United States. In 2018, the University of Virginia awarded her the Mellon Indigenous Arts Visiting Fellowship. She co-curated of the exhibition Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists presently on national tour at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Please join us for an illustrated talk as artist Teri Greeves explores her artwork in the context of Native art in the 21st century.

Sign Up for the E-newsletter
Thanks for Signing Up
1400 West Museum Boulevard Wichita, KS 67203-3200 | 316-268-4921