Preston Singletary began his journey as an artist in his hometown of Seattle in the 1980s. Good fortune led him to a series of mentors through which he honed his craft.
His innate gregariousness and singular vision attracted a supportive community of fellow artists and creatives around him thus creating a fertile ground upon which to grow.
A spiritual experience with an indigenous teacher at the Pilchuck Glass School led to his melding of excellence of European glass blowing traditions with his Tlingit culture, and iconography. This transformation and his continued evolution as an artist and cultural leader form the spine of our story. As is true of most significant artists, Preston’s story is not without pain and heartache. The profound impact of colonization on the Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska forms the basin from which Singletary emerged. Intergenerational trauma, the residential schools, and protracted efforts to eliminate their culture, and indeed their very existence is a legacy he and other indigenous peoples share. It is within this context that his work evolving our understanding and appreciation of Native culture truly shines.
The film weaves a braid combining Singletary’s personal story, his creative process, together with his technical prowess and gift for collaboration, and the underlying meaning and context of his work both as a Tlingit and a contemporary American. His work is stunning to the eye and brings insight and illumination to the mind. As the Smithsonian’s Dawn Biddison aptly put it, his future as an artist is wide open. We can’t wait to be amazed. In addition to Dawn, personal and professional context is provided by Sealaska Institutes Rosita Worl, Tlingit carver and collaborator Wayne Price, Tlingit artist Lily Hope, Alaskan Native anthropologist Eleanor Hadden, Alaska Native art historian Nadia Sethi, artist, and collaborator Dante Marioni, Tlingit author, and filmmaker Garth Stein, amongst others. The film highlights Singletary as an influential American artist and highlights the importance of his work in advancing our appreciation of the Alaska Native, and Native American experience.