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Laurence Elias

BIO:

 Having a long-standing interest in art,  Laurence took several studio courses with Nathan Olivera and others while a student at Stanford.   These experiences galvanized his interest and sparked a dream to someday focus all his energy on art. In addition to maintaining an artistic practice during the following years, he continued taking other studio art courses and workshops and was always refreshed and inspired by gallery and museum visits. Thus, following a long career as a physician and scientist, Laurence committed to shifting his focus to art full-time around 2014.

Elias feels that one of the pleasures of art is noting that each body of work, of any level of accomplishment or success, originates from individuals, just as signatures and fingerprints are. So art truly puts us in contact with unique persons. While never intending to reference his prior occupation, Laurence's sense of beauty has been influenced by microscopic inspection of cells and tissues, and by technical information presented as inventive and visually striking diagrams. 

Personal themes in Elias’ work are noticeable, as expressive organic patterns emerge from ordered geometric starting points. More importantly, though, Laurence intends his art to elicit magical, transporting, or uncanny states of mind. He regards such meaningful inner experiences as essential. 

 
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RESUME:

Born in Brooklyn, NY; Laurence currently resides and works in Berkeley, CA.

 

Education:
  • California College of the Arts,  M.F.A., 2018 

  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Visual Arts, UC Berkeley

Extension, San Francisco, 2016 

  • Art Coursework and Workshops (1966-2016):  

    • U.C. Berkeley Extension

    • Stanford University 

    • Kala Institute (Berkeley)

    • University of New Mexico 

    • Harwood Foundation (Albuquerque NM)  

    • Princeton University

  • Stanford University, M.D., 1972 

  • Princeton University, A.B., 1967

 

Exhibitions:

Solo:

2019

  • Reflect/Spirit/Light at Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol, CA

 

Group Shows, Juried or Curated:

2020

  • Fragments at ARC Gallery, San Francisco, Juried by Jan Tough, Jan Tough Gallery, Santa Fe

  • Out of the Box, Healdsburg Center for the Arts, Healdsburg, CA

  • California Open, 15th Annual National Competition, TAG Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Juried by Kate Mothes, Curator of Young Space, and Dovetail Magazine

  • Some Speechless Thing (Part II of Annual Members Show) at Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA, Selected from Part I open submissions by Griff Williams, Gallery 16, San Francisco 

2019

  • The Naked Print at Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts, Providence, RI, Juried by Stephen Fisher, Professor, Art Department, Rhode Island College, Providence

  • Art + Movement at Gearbox Gallery, Oakland, CA, Juried by Maria Porges, Artist, Writer, Faculty member, California College of the Arts, San Francisco

2018

  • Caught in the Fray, 14th Annual Textiles Exhibition, at College Street Gallery, Oakland, CA, Curated by Josh Faught, California College of the Arts

  • CCA MFA Show at Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco, CA

  • Wave-Forms at Embark Gallery, Oakland, CA, Juried by Leila Grothe, Assoc Curator, Wattis Institute, San Francisco and Baltimore Museum of Art

2017

  • Making Thinking at Hubble Street Gallery, San Francisco, Curated by Shaun O’Dell, California College of the Arts 

  • 5th Annual Juried Art Show at the Piedmont Center for the Art Piedmont, CA

2016

  • Krowsworkers/FARM at Krowswork Gallery, Oakland CA, Curated by Jasmine Moorhead

 

Other Group Shows:

2015​

  • Drawn to Line at UCBX Gallery, San Francisco, CA

  • Collect! (Invited) at Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA

Press:

  • Studio Visit (a print periodical) Vol.48, pp 62-65 (2021)  

 
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STATEMENT:

I am inspired by how, in nature, simple, repetitive units form complex, often networked, and even biomorphic structures. I utilize geometric forms and patterns as starting points in retracing this process. I like to work in at least two distinct media at alternating times. Although these significantly contrast, they both incorporate similar natural imagery and a geometric basis. 

 "Reflect/Spirit/Light" (R/S/L)

Our brains construct our reality from raw sensory input. Most of the time, this processing is reliable, but not always. My objects bring this constructed nature of perception to immediate awareness: they present visual cues of volume, including shape, internal edges, and off the wall attachment. The mirrored backgrounds reproduce the transparency and reflectivity of the photographic subjects.  The experience of viewing these entails surprise, as the straight-on and side views conflict.   

My process starts with a photograph of a pattern originating in natural scenes or other art I may produce. I re-photograph the starting photo, using a close-up or macro technique,  through transparent cast acrylic models of one of the five Platonic solids.  The original photos are incorporated into the solid forms, with some distortion by reflection, refraction, and transmission. I print the selected final images by UV-fused acrylic inkjet,  an archival process, on pieces of laser-cut acrylic sheets.  I mount these on backings that enable attachment a few inches off the wall, and at a slight off-vertical angle. This attachment system, accomplished by artist-designed and produced fixtures, increases the sense of space-occupying volume. 

When I originated this process, it was oriented towards physically flat but visually volumetric objects that also veer into abstraction. I later began to literally deconstruct the complete images into diptychs of matched fragments of the original. This work attains a higher degree of abstraction and is also more conceptual as the viewer is challenged to grasp the relationship between the two components.  

 

While I have long recognized a sculptural aspect of all this work, I more recently began to assemble two or more pieces of acrylic sheet with imagery into sculpture. The original subjects can be appreciated from the front, while, from oblique views, the objects "dissolve"  into pure abstraction.  There are conflicting visual cues of both perceived (from the components) and actual overall solidity. These pieces invite yet greater viewer engagement to fully apprehend.

 

String Drawings

I have been interested in string as a material for a long time: It is the essence of line while having its own material heft. I think of this work as paintings or drawings, first and foremost.  They are done on string or cord, unusual supports that contribute an element of texture. In this body of work, the structure of the string may impart linear or swirling motion and contrasts and demarcations between areas.  As I work on these  I may extend the original by additional weaving or by incorporating something small within something larger.    Early examples were wrapped around themselves into wall sculptures or occupied the corners between walls.  The drawings have a  sculptural feel to me, imparted by their physicality.

These painted string drawings start as grids, which function as armatures. I then work against the grid by cutting at spots, adding additional string, surrounding one shape with another, etc.  Interwoven lengths of string are like brush strokes. As I work into these I am interested in creating an organic flow that engulfs the simple starting pattern.  The work winds up mirroring the kind of complex networked structures, arising from repeated simple units, that I like to visualize as underlying natural forms, living or inorganic, from the microscopic to the cosmic.