Opening in 2018 at the Museum of Glass, Raven and the Box of Daylight is the Tlingit story of Raven and his transformation of the world—bringing light to people via the stars, moon, and sun. This myth holds great significance in the mythology of the Tlingit people as a revered creation tale. The exhibition features a dynamic combination of artwork, storytelling, and encounter, where the Tlingit creation myth unfolds during the visitor’s experience.
The glass art of Preston Singletary is rooted in the narrative of Raven and the Box of Daylight. Primarily known for his celebration of Native American art and design, Singletary will explore new ways of working with glass inspired by Tlingit design principles. Tlingit objects were traditionally created for stagecraft, and were used to tell stories by representing elements of the natural world, as well as the histories of tribal families. By drawing upon this tradition, Singletary’s art creates a unique theatrical atmosphere, in which the pieces follow and enhance the exhibition narrative.
Raven and the Box of Daylight takes visitors on an experiential journey with Raven, and the transformation of darkness into light. Artworks by Preston Singletary, inspired by the creation myth and Tlingit art, are enhanced by exhibition text and audio-visual experiences.
Text Courtesy of Museum of Glass.
The Story of Raven and the Box of Daylight
Raven looked around and the world was dark. Raven encountered the fishermen of the night and asked, “Where is the Light?” He learned of the chief at the head of the Nass River who kept the light in his clan house.
Raven goes to the old chief, but is shooed away and learns of the chief’s daughter who drinks from the stream outside of the clan house. Raven devises a plan to transform himself into a speck of dirt and float into the young girl’s cup, in order to sneak into the house. Her servants see the dirt and they throw the water out. Raven decides to transform himself into a hemlock needle in the stream and tries again. This time the daughter drinks the water that contained the hemlock needle and she becomes pregnant with Raven in the form of a human baby.
Raven is born as a boy. The old chief wouldn’t deny his much loved grandson anything. The boy grew quickly and was very precocious. Raven, the boy, eventually discovered a box and asked to play with it. The chief and his mother refused but the boy screamed until the grandfather gave in. When no one was looking the boy opened the box and the Stars flew up through the smoke hole and into the night sky. They scolded the boy. After some time the old man forgot what his grandson had done, then Raven discovered another box. Raven asked to play with the box and they refused. So Raven started to scream and cry. They eventually gave the box to him and he opened it. The Moon floated from the box and up into the sky.
Finally the boy searched and found the final box. He again asked to play with it and everyone adamantly refused. So he cried and fussed until he drove everyone crazy. The old man relented again. They instructed him once again to not open the box. So he played with the box; slept with the box and ate off of the box.
The boy was growing tired of being human and decided to transform back into the Raven. One night when everyone was asleep, he crept to the box and slowly opened it. This was the box containing the Sun. Raven decided to flee the clan house, while daylight flooded throughout the world and everything was bathed in light.
Raven and the Box of Daylight
Raven Steals the Moon
The Woman Who Was Transparent