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Eli with Enwrapped and Agitator
Eli with "Enwrapped"

Inspired by a love of geometry, Elias Wakan studied mathematics and philosophy at Stanford University. Leaving academia for adventure (and a suitable vocation), he spent the next few years in South America, India and the Yukon. An early company of his (FORM), concerned with spatial problems and structure, eventually led to his designing and building an underground (earth-sheltered) passive solar house in Ontario, where he lived with his wife, the writer Naomi Wakan, drawing from nature and making willow baskets during an extended back-to-the-land period. Later he was accepted by the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design on the strength of a portfolio strong on graphic design (including an original puzzle that he had marketed), pointillist drawings and a form of paper sculpture that he had invented. Instead of going to art school, though, he chose to go to Japan where he spent the next two years exploring the photography of form and pattern.

On returning to Canada, many of his Japanese photos were used by publishers, including several covers. His set of 100 slides on Japan and (later) his set of 100 slides on Peru, were widely used by school boards across Canada and in the States. Elias spent the next ten years designing and laying-out books for Pacific-Rim Publishers at the same time continuing his exploration of form in a series of delicate geometric paper sculptures (many reminiscent of the work of Escher). On moving to Gabriola Island, B.C., he started to translate these paper forms into wood.

He has exhibited his photographs, paper and wood sculptures at the Red Gate Gallery, Artworks, and at his own Gallery (Drumbeg House Studio), all on Gabriola Island, also the Nanaimo Art Gallery, the McPherson Art Gallery in Victoria, Artmonsky Arts in London, England, and the J. Mitchell Gallery in Salt Spring, BC.

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