Greener Artist Builds a Legacy for his Grandfather, Himself, and the Community

Grant Walker with his totem at Percival Landing in Olympia.

Grant Walker, a recent graduate of The Evergreen State College, is building an artistic legacy on campus and beyond. On June 19, his work of art, “Wounds of Time” was installed at Percival Landing in downtown Olympia.

The piece—a tall wooden totem—is a monument to his grandfather, a former two-star general who now suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia. “Wounds of Time” not only mirrors his grandfather’s journey, it’s an expression of his own struggle as he navigates his relationship with his grandfather.

“Time is not something he thinks about anymore, and the piece reflects that,” says Walker.

An Olympia native, Walker is familiar with the waterfront sculptures that grace Percival Landing, and knew he wanted his art to be part of this iconic city landscape. He applied for an installation through the City of Olympia’s Percival Plinth Project and was one of 15 artists chosen.

“Public art is huge,” he says. “It’s important for people to be around art. It gives you a moment of silence, whether it’s one minute or 30.”

As a transfer student to Evergreen, Walker nurtured his passion with the help of faculty and fellow students, and became connected with Chris Maynard, an artist who has pioneered a unique style of feather art. Walker was able to intern with Maynard, and honed his skills, learning from Maynard’s craftsmanship.

Walker got his artistic start with metal, but it wasn’t long before he began to take on wood-based pieces. With is totem, he knew the piece would change even after the installation, and he designed it anticipating the impact the environment will have on the wood.

“Something like stone or ceramics has its place,” says Walker, “but wood is a living tree. When it does die, it’s almost like rebirth. That isn’t the end of their life. I’m able to use them and honor them—it gives them one last stand.”

Walker says he loved Evergreen’s creative and open environment and his approach to art reflects that. His “Wounds of Time” piece evolved and grew over time and Walker let the process and material guide him. The piece was made as a thesis project during his senior year at Evergreen.

Walker’s art has impacted the community in another way—he developed a unique piece that was auctioned at Evergreen’s Art of Giving event. His piece, “Mitosis,” raised money for Evergreen student scholarships last year.

Walker’s success continues. He is currently studying at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Wash. He resides just down the road from Evergreen on Steamboat Island, and hopes to continue his artwork throughout a long and creative career in the Northwest.

“While there are places all over the world that nurture art, the Northwest is a special kind of community. For me, it is home,” he says.

Walker paints on the Evergreen Beach

Walker paints on the Evergreen Beach in August 2016. (Photo by Shauna Bittle/Evergreen)