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.



Senior Wednesday: Exhibition Exploration

Wednesday, February 5
10:30 am | doors open at 10 am for coffee and treats
Free for WAM members; $2 general admission.

Explore WAM's newest exhibition, Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight, with curator of education Courtney Spousta. Exhibition Exploration encourages discussion and thoughtful looking. Raven and the Box of Daylight features a dynamic combination of artworks, storytelling, and encounter where the Pacific Northwest Tlingit story of Raven unfolds.

Senior Wednesday offers lifelong learning opportunities for active adults 55+.

Curator Talk: Philbrook Museum's Christina Burke

Past, Present, and Future: Native American Art in the 21st Century
Thursday, February 6
6 pm | Galleries open before talk
Free admission

Join Philbrook Museum of Art curator Christina Burke for an illustrated talk exploring how contemporary Indigenous artists draw inspiration from the past in their creative practices. From painting to fashion design and everything in between, such connections can be seen in many artists’ work—including Preston Singletary whose exhibition Raven and the Box of Daylight is now on view at WAM. Burke, who has been Curator of Native American and Non-Western Art at Philbrook since 2006, has worked on a variety of collaborative projects with Indigenous artists, from collections research and exhibition development to fashion shows and commissioning new work. She is currently finalizing details for Philbrook to host the traveling exhibition, Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists, which will open in Oklahoma in summer 2020. 

Christina E. Burke is a cultural anthropologist and curator whose focus is Native American art and material culture. She has researched and written about historical and contemporary Native art, juried competitive shows like Santa Fe Indian Market, and curated such exhibitions as the retrospective Impact: The Philbrook Indian Annual, 1946-1979. She has also worked on diverse collaborative projects with Native people, including developing Native language curriculum materials, as well as collections research and exhibition development. Her primary interest is exploring Indigenous creative traditions and their contemporary expressions.

Drop-In Tours for Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight

WAM is excited to offer more ways to learn about the exhibition with our amazing docents. Come for Sunday or Tuesday afternoon tours when the crowds are smaller. Join in great conversation and exploration during a one-hour tour.

Drop-in tours depart from the S. Jim and Darla Farha Great Hall. No reservations required.

Drop-In Tours are from 2 to 3 pm on the following dates:

Sunday, February 9
Tuesday, February 25
Sunday, March 15
Tuesday, March 24
Sunday, April 12
Tuesday, April 21

Free with paid admission. Watch for more Drop-In Tour dates coming this summer.

Educators' Evening

Thursday, February 20
5 to 7 pm

Free admission

WAM offers a special evening of appreciation for educators to experience Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight. Admission is free and open to educators with a school ID. Educators are encouraged to bring a guest to the event.

RSVP online by Monday, February 17 to

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. 

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, February 22
Saturday, March 21
Saturday, April 25

Free admission

Members-Only Late 'Til 8

Friday, February 28
5 to 8 pm

Just for members--come to WAM for a focused look at Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight when the exhibition is closed to the public. Live music, cash bar, tasty treats, plus chic TGIF mingling. A docent will be in the galleries for questions and conversation from 6 to 7 pm.

Free admission for WAM members only. Not a member yet? Click here to become a museum member.

Senior Wednesday: Art Film

Wednesday, March 4
10:30 am | doors open at 10 am for coffee and treats
Free for WAM members; $2 general admission.

Native Art Now!, a PBS documentary that examines the evolution of Native art over the last 25 years, presents personal perspectives from internationally acclaimed Native contemporary artists. Produced in collaboration with the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. Film is 57 minutes in length. 

Senior Wednesday offers lifelong learning opportunities for active adults 55+.

Senior Wednesday: Field Trip to Mid-America All-Indian Center

Wednesday, April 1
Mid-America All-Indian Center, 650 North Seneca Street, Wichita
10:30 am | doors open at 10 am for coffee and treats
Free for WAM members and Mid-America All-Indian Center members; $2 general admission.

Take a trip around the corner to visit our neighbors at the Mid-America All-Indian Center. Enjoy a special tour highlighting the collections and exhibitions, including Re-imagining the Bosins, featuring Native American students' artwork that bring their artistic vision and interpretation of Blackbear Bosin's paintings to light.

MEET AT the Mid-America All-Indian Center, 650 North Seneca Street, Wichita.

Curator Talk: Candice Hopkins

Thursday, April 9
6 pm | Galleries open before talk
Free admission

Native Art from the 1950s to Now: Art for a New Understanding
Join curator Candice Hopkins (Tlingit/citizen of Carcross/Tagish First Nation) for an illustrated talk on her exhibition Art for a New Understanding. Organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the exhibition features approximately 80 artworks from the 1950s to today, including paintings, photography, video, textiles, sculptures, and performance art created by 40 Indigenous U.S. and Canadian artists. Expanding the traditional modernist canon, the exhibition tells another history of the development of contemporary art by exploring the significant contributions made by Indigenous artists.

A leading contemporary art curator, Hopkins is Senior Curator of the Toronto Biennial of Art and co-curator of the 2018 SITE Santa Fe biennial, Casa Tomada. She was a member of the curatorial team for documenta 14 in Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany. Hopkins also co-curated the exhibitions Sakahan: International Indigenous Art, the largest ever global survey of contemporary Indigenous art, for the National Gallery of Canada and Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years, at the Winnipeg Gallery.

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.

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