Cover artist Evan Grainger is giving stained glass new life
One thousand tiny pieces of hand-cut glass—that’s often the starting point for Evan Grainger’s large, intricate stained glass sculptures. From there he meticulously crafts the material into objects that feel plucked right out of the dusty sagebrush. His sculptures include animal skulls like bison, elk, and beaver, and even dapper bolo ties. As a Jackson Hole local he can’t help but let his wild surroundings bleed into his work.
In 2001, Grainger’s family moved to the valley from Pasadena, California, ultimately trading urban life for the mountains. “It was a full 180,” he explains. “I went from playing video games and soccer to suddenly being thrust into the natural world.”
Everything he creates is a labor of love. Some pieces require at least a month of work, and it’s more than just assembling a sculpture. Once Grainger finishes the form, he goes a step further by adding a light fixture. The result seamlessly blends form and function, which is a point of pride for Grainger. “My art should double as not only something you can hang, but be usable too,” he emphasizes.
“I didn’t care about the snowboard, I just cared about the art on it.”
This fondness for functionality can be traced back to his artistic roots. As a teen he worked for his father’s furniture business, exposing him to all kinds of materials and processes. He dabbled in everything: woodwork, metalwork, stained glass, and more. Curiosity drove the rest of his learning. He taught himself what he didn’t know to fill in the gaps. Over time, he found himself gravitating solely to stained glass. “I feel like I can do so much more with glass. It’s given me the ability to push the boundaries with my 3D work,” Grainger explains.
After 15 years of working in the glass trade, Grainger started the path to becoming a full-fledged artist. In 2019 he debuted his first series of work called the ‘Fragile West,’ which showcased his famous bison skulls. Given his delicate medium, the series conveys the increasing fragility of western ecosystems. But it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic hit that Grainger made the full leap into his passion. It turns out that the combination of having no work and getting stir-crazy in lockdown was the perfect catalyst to launch his new business, Grainger Glass Studio.
Two-dimensional projects aren’t the norm for Grainger, but when Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine offered him the chance to grace the Issue Seventeen cover with a stained glass piece, his response was a resounding yes. He has always found a common thread between snowboarding and art. “When I was a kid, I didn’t care about the snowboard, I just cared about the art that was on it. To be able to contribute something that speaks about snowboarding in our town is great,” he says.
His cover piece “Lines” is a clean and minimalist representation of all the things we love about a day in the mountains: fresh tracks down big faces, a skin track shared with friends, and fluffy flakes of snow falling from above. And as always with Grainger’s work, the piece doesn’t come alive until you light it up. That’s when the magic begins.