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Showing For: May, 2013

Partners in Mythology: Preston Singletary and Walter Porter

Walter Porter is an Alaska Native Mythologist that has collaborated and acted as a mentor for Preston for many years. Learn more about him and his relationship with Preston's work in this post and at his website.

For many years, Preston has worked closely with Alaska Native mythologist Walter Porter to give greater culutral meaning to his pieces.   Walter speaks about the wisdom and knowledge that has been protected for us by our ancient Elders and how they cleverly disguised this information in mythology so it would come down safely to us through the ages. With rising crime, social problems, environmental impacts on commuities and illnesses at the forefront of our concerns today, he points out how mythology holds many answers for us to regain control of our communities and lives by understanding them.

 

From his website, Tlinkimo:

Walter Porter is a Tlingit Indian from Yakutat Alaska. He was born in Yakutat in 1944 and moved to Haines, Alaska in 1956. He graduated in 1962 and traveled for 10 years and moved back to Yakutat. He spent a good deal of his boyhood years listening to his grand mother and other elders tell mythologies and legends that were handed down to them by their elders.

When he moved to Haines, he joined the Chilkat Dancers performing dances that were Tlingit Mythologies put into dance. In the mid 80’s he was invited to be the host on the “Box of Daylight” video put together by Sealaska Foundation, Alaska State Museum, Klukwaan Heritage, Alaska Humanities Forum and others.

He discovered at that time similarities with the Box of Daylight and other spiritual information he had been studying over the years. He has since then put together presentations showing how elders understood these stories and how they successfully used them to develop leadership, social, economic and healing skills to build strong and stable communities.

When lecturing or holding workshops, Walter invites his audience to look closely at the symbols in the story he is working with and gives them alternative meanings to choose from.  By allowing the audience or students to participate, the experience becomes more meaningful as they begin to understand and see the wisdom and knowledge of our elders unfolding from ancient times to present.

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Also on his website is  a video of one of his lectures, which Preston introduces: Click Here For Hi-Resolution Video.

Preston and Walter at the Alaska Native Cultural Conference in 2007.

Preston and Walter worked together to create a lecture called "Spokesmen For Culture" at the Museum of Glass in connection to his exhibiton Preston Singletary: Echoes, Fire, and Shadows.  Walter was even one of the guest essayists in the catalog, writing about the cultural significance of the Raven Steals the Light myth.  They will be collaborating again soon for a major project surrounding the Raven myth, which we'll tell you about as details are finalized.

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Glassblowing Demonstration in Czech Republic

This photo set gives us a look at the glassblowing demonstration that Preston and Dante performed at the Ajeto Glassworks Museum in Nový Bor, Czech Republic.

In February, Preston traveled to the Czech Republic with Totem project manager Charlie Parriott, his long-time friend and fellow glassblower Dante Marioni, and photographer Russell Johnson.  Russell's photographs captured the trip in documentary form, which we'll continue to share with you in the coming weeks.

Dante takes a photo of a castle on the way to the glass museum in Nový Bor, Czech Republic.

The Ajeto Glassworks and Museum, Nový Bor.

This photo set gives us a look at the glassblowing demonstration that Preston and Dante performed at the Ajeto Glassworks Museum in Nový Bor, a town about 60 miles north of Prague.  The museum's hot shop provided several different viewing areas, including their restaurant!

 

Preston and Dante hope to return to Ajeto for a longer residency, where they will make a collaborative body of work that may tour museums throughout the Czech Republic and Eastern Europe.

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Opening This Week at Traver Gallery

Opening this week at Traver Gallery, Seattle, is an exhibition of 25 new works entitled Listen For the Raven. Check out the exhibition catalog!

Opening this week at Traver Gallery, Seattle, is an exhibition of 25 new works entitled Listen For the Raven.

It will be on exhibit April 4 - 28, 2013

First Thursday opening reception April 4, 5 - 8 pm.

 

Check out the exhibition catalog below!

 

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SNEAK PEEK: THE TOTEM PROJECT, PART 6 – Final Approval

In February, Preston traveled to Prague to see the totem in its finished state; the surface cleaning and retouching had been completed and the three sections assembled.

In February, Preston traveled to Prague to see the totem in its finished state;  the surface cleaning and retouching had been completed and the three sections assembled.  

His traveling companions were project manager Charlie Parriott, his long-time friend and fellow glassblower Dante Marioni, and photographer Russell Johnson.  Russell's photographs captured the trip in documentary form, which we'll share with you in the coming weeks.

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SNEAK PEEK: THE TOTEM PROJECT, PART 5 – IN GLASS

The totem has been successfully cast in glass! Check out photos from the workshop in Prague that pulled off this incredible feat!

In Spring 2012, after several months of attempting to cast the totem in glass, FireArt Glass in Portland was unable to create a successful version.  The sheer volume of glass required to cast a totem of this size makes it not only difficult to manouver, but extremely volatile to cool evenly.  The type of glass used at FireArt may also have been a factor in the instability of the totem.

 

In the summer, Preston then contacted Charles Parriott, a longtime friend and colleague with professional ties to the glass community in the Czech Republic, to take over as project manager.  Almost immediately, we shipped the original wooden totem to the Czech Republic, where Art Fabrication Services EU set to work taking yet another mold from the totem.  

  

They used a tested and approved method of casting monumental glass that was pioneered for massive pieces by Jaroslava Brychtová and Stanislav Libenský in the 1950s.  They used a special kind of lead crystal to cast the totem, in a vivid light amber color, which would allow for the best light transmission and internal refraction.  It would also be much less likely to form bubbles during cooling in the annealer, but this feature came at a cost: the totem sections would have to cool in the annealer for three months.  During that time, the technicians would not be able to check on the sections to see if they had cooled correctly or exploded due to instability.

  

At the beginning of January 2013, Preston and Charlie traveled to Prague to see what those three anxious months of annealing would produce.  What came out was better than they had imagined.  The totem glows as if from within when lit, though it is solid and nearly 2 feet deep.  The final size is over seven feet tall and it weighs 2,000 pounds!

  

The photos above show the Czech technicians cleaning up the surface of the totem, to allow the original carving marks to be more prominent.  They have spent the last 6 weeks completing the surface preparation and testing the glass for stress and structural integrity. The photo of the two top sections (the bear on the hat) show the variation in color that happens when the back of the totem section is hollowed out, as in a traditional carved totem.  Preston has decided the richness of the color of the solid version is preferrable.

 

 

Yesterday, Preston and Charlie, along with Dante Marioni and our photographer Russell Johnson, flew back to the Czech Republic to give final approval for the totem and to visit other glass studios and schools.  Preston will be speaking tomorrow at the Ajeto Art Glass Museum in Nový Bor.

When they return, we will have some wonderful photos by Russell Johnson to share with you!

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