MELA M MASHUPS by Writer, Art Critic and Curator Mat Gleason, 2022

The poetry of the subatomic and what it amounts to in the meta is at the heart of Mela M’s vast body of work. Her exhibition history has seen her experiment with and master many mediums, but she is at her core a painter. She composes objects in service to the pictorial and blasts them with an irradiated color germane to modernist painting sensibilities. Even when presented as a sculpture, her work is never not a painting. Her constructions are puzzles of possibility. Pictorial experiments in the round. But just because she does not adhere to the wall-mounted oil on canvas format doesn’t make her any less an heir to Malevich, El Lissitsky, Moholy-Nagy, and Rodchenko in the East and Stella, Halley, Kelly and Johns’ series of crosshatched paintings in the West.

In each of these artists, Mela finds her antecedent as she pushes forward their visual accomplishments into her own. Kasmir Malevich of course posited that the geometric was the next battleground for visual art after the figure. El Lissitsky, trained as an architect, honed geometry itself as simultaneous subject and composition. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy insisted on the forward thinking nature of pure form. Despite ending up as a propagandist, Alexander Rodchenko brought geometric abstraction into the realm of daily life. Each of these tangents can be found in kaleidoscopic layers – physically, compositionally and conceptually – throughout Mela’s oeuvre.

Working professionally in the United States for over twenty years, there is an encapsulation in her work of many influences from advanced American visual art. While the nerdy Peter Halley and the sensual Frank Stella hardly seem comparable, Mela’s art has anchored at both ports throughout her exhibition history. While nobody could ever accuse her of being a minimalist, her hard edges and distinct color harken to Ellsworth Kelly but with a rhythmic improvisation more akin to what Jasper Johns accomplished in his crosshatch paintings. Again, Mela’s mashups take canonical modernist history and rushes it all into the twenty-first century with a sense of freshness and purpose that will certainly be appreciated decades from now when the long arc of history will be easier to surmise.

Mela’s art is as fascinating a study in the East and West as the woman herself. Her compositions are resolutely geometric and of late almost always favor the jagged; resembling at times stacks of origami sculptures with their sharp diagonals and brilliant colors. But Mela is the child of Russian and Ukrainian parents, not the “Far East” of Origami but the easternmost battlefield in Europe.

Her color choices tend toward the saturated, and yet, the subtleties between two shades of one color, even when ramped up to the extreme, evince the eye of a colorist, a painter with subtleties even when delivered at a high visual volume. The hard edges of her Soviet predecessors were not known to carry nuance, but the possibilities of America allow her the chance to experiment in public – and her work, for all of its panache and certainty, is still radically experimenting with the formal possibilities of objecthood in the digital age.

Historically, we have to admire the rigorous devotion she has for pushing the possibilities of geometric abstract painting out of its ordinary confines. Our current historical era is more likely to reward an artist for painting a cartoon character in a hundred different poses. Left unappreciated is an artist whose work pushes into new visual territory. The worship of all things tech has left stranded analog artists who tinker at the formal level in finding new forms that have never existed outside the imagination. There is an art world for artists like Mela in which to share one’s accomplishments in the making of new realities in abstract objecthood, but culturally these things have a tiny audience. But they do have one thing working in their favor: posterity.

In a world infatuated with the digital, it is the painters that will deliver who we were/are to eyeballs in the far off future. Mela’s paintings carry the dual fascination and burden of the pixel. Her certain geometry and almost glowing colors mimic the digital experience in analog fabrication. She composes in a perfectly contemporary manner but fabricates with an eye on permanence. She is therefore battling with history as much as she is joining it. What we see on our screens and our phones as pixels will never survive a millenia, technology eats itself. But the materials of fine art that Mela uses have been proven to last. Put a painting in the attic and check back in four hundred years. Besides a layer of dust it is fine… future generations will understand the structural underpinnings of our digital era when Mela’s art is on display hundreds of years from now, grounded in art history, reflecting her specific illuminated era.

Essay by Mat Gleason
3/2/2022


To Gather: Frequencies Transformed, Mela M: Manifest Structures from the Imaginal by Suzanne Bybee, from the Structure exhibition at the Lancaster Museum of Art & History, CA, October 2–December 27 2021

From the Structure exhibition at the Lancaster Museum of Art & History, October 2 – December 26, 2021, Lancaster, CA, now on permanent display.

Familiar shadows are usually relegated to intervals early or late in the day – when glimpsed in the dark though, the implication is that an otherworldly presence is in attendance; however on Lancaster MOAH’s rooftop, shadows are summoned willingly and cast into different roles. What appears is an enclave of forms changing our perceptions of light, color, and time: The Entire Universe Moves Through Irregular Angles in a Rising Wall From an Architectonic City Without Name or Place or Time along with The Wall Temple at the Vanishing Point, balance transformations illuminating multi-surface activations, a choral of repeating and intricate elemental passages sliding away from walls and set as crystalline jewels reaching open and upward toward the heavens.

As a departure from its counterparts inside the museum, this wooden aqueduct and its attendants extend as a trestle would: climbing, a steep transport of fused elements move along the roof, ready to either welcome or jettison emanations into or out to distant galactic landings. They carry energies unseen, absorbing and transmitting reflections, an interleaving of temporal spaces, balanced steady by earthbound hours.

Twenty five different lights are transmissions painting the timbers; while refractions leap across different stratum, the medium saturates all the surfaces and though the structures are stationary, the sparkling, playful action cascades over the entire installation sweeping tight sequences of sharp arrays everywhere. The cloak of twilight and eventual darkness does change the encounter but this is not a completely separate moment from daylight – all these realms are of equal footing, all transitional moments, other states of being that create a topological encounter from several overlapping vantage points – as light is carried throughout, there is an integration, a visual electricity coursing through the whole of the assembly: sightlines map these solid landmarks and envelop the audience as if they are visiting the site of a ceremony or cosmic event.

The distances between the contemporary and the ancient, the earth and the cosmos are shortened; physical objects and bodies communicate their presences as nourishment for understanding place on a purely visual level in a heightened present. The cultivation of this new space binds powerful textures and captured articulations with renewed acuity – this is not a static experience: viewers are invited to investigate and acquaint themselves with the work, a moment of reflection and reverie. The rooftop landscape inspires the audience to stretch connections, imaginations and expressions advancing infinite possibilities of revelation and action.

Each aspect of the installation is a response to the natural world with offerings to larger, intangible, unknown spheres – grains amplified, the physicality of the wood stands intricately assembled; feathered wavelengths punctuating the structures, with no two outlines alike. All the angles, passages and climbing permutations add up to an earthly weight of 2.4 tons – this entire footprint, with its repeating arrangements and supports represents one and half years of labor intensive, creative exercise; meditative and truly somatic in focus. So many exclamations punctuate the constructions, day or night, defying time with their punches – explosive activity radiating, their precisely sanded edges and bodies bear witness to the artist’s commitment to emphasize process as intimate endeavor, standing away from the convention of overtly manufactured objects and revitalizing surfaces through the examination of meticulously singular details. The very action infuses vibrations into these blocks of stacked rays creating wavelengths undulating and releasing (from their own containment) visions of rarified landscapes; distinct vocabularies coupled with visible calculations that extend beyond place and space elaborating upon the possibility that the physical and the intangible already are of one body.

“The infinite variety of evolutionary complexities, inherent to the orderliness of complementary principles operative in Universe, is of unending synergetic uniqueness.”

Suzanne Bybee
Artist and Writer
December 31, 2021


THE AUTHORITY OF COLOR AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT, Mela M, November, 2021

In white light there is a combination of all the colors in the color spectrum that created all manifest forms that we can observe. It is in these functions of light and color in their energy forms that literally create the structure of matter. The chaotic beginnings of the cosmos was transformed into order by the speed of light in the electromagnetic wave and particle functions of color.

These current works are interpretations of the seamless interconnectedness between light and material forms. I also wanted to visually create irregular and uncommon shapes and colors for the challenge of achieving a perceptual balance in their apparent “chaotic“ and asymmetrical arrangements while simultaneously attempting to simulate a clear experientially felt sensation of intense vibratory movement and speed.

In the work “Betwixt and Between in Everything Seen” there is a reciprocal and dynamic interplay of vibrant color-intensive layers over unfamiliar angles and shapes. In becoming a participatory observer in a state of betwixt and between, or nowhere in particular, one can enable the element of surprise in everything seen because we can experience the unforeseen or expect the unexpected in a universe of unlimited possible outcomes. The intuitive imaginal seems to work this way.

Another point of view intended in these works is to connect with the subliminal feelings that seem difficult to define but, nevertheless, are indications of the pronounced uncertainty and unpredictability of the increasing magnitude of events that are impacting our lives. This conception can be experienced in the ominous irregularity of the sharp and angled forms in stark contrast to the inviting visual radiance of colors transported by the life-giving light of the cosmos.

The work “A Flash of Emblazoned Prismatic Light Emanating from a Solar Shape“ suggests a precise and bold accelerating revelation of explosive containment through the interplay of sharp edged shapes and vibrant colors.

The “Omegatropolis Bridge” represents the instantaneous passage that connects the trichotomy of past, present and future. It also connects the alpha and omega as the beginning and end points of a theoretically conscious universe. From here, the universe gradually unfolds meaningful informational timelines to help navigate discrete dimensions of hyperspace.

For me, “The Temple of Fire at the Event Horizon “signifies a manifestation of spontaneous genesis from the nonlocal immaterial dimension of the imaginal into the visible local material universe where light and color orchestrate and sculpt matter in a myriad of masterful architectonic forms.

I see the thematic authority of color at the speed of light in these works as an enhanced metaphor. One that will cultivate a more enlightened and harmonious authority in the relationships between art, science, our planet and the universe we are destined to share and explore.

Mela M
November, 2021


MANIFEST STRUCTURES FROM the IMAGINAL: the OMEGATROPOLIS, RISING WALL, the TEMPLE and the MOON CASTLE, Mela M, August, 2021

The general intention in this new body of work is to continue moving forward along the timeline of evolving my contemporary abstract perspectives of the architectonic world that surrounds us. This work, in part, is intentionally, yet always intuitively informed, designed to subliminally allow the viewer to apperceive their subjective experience of the trichotomy of geometric waves, vibrant fields and optic frequencies. This theme was dramatically featured in my previous work of 53 sculptural paintings on monolithic or totemic hand-built wood structures titled LOSING GRAVITY IN THE ORBITING MEGATROPOLIS: Geometric Waves, Vibrant Fields, and Optic Frequencies.

This current work references the synergistic multi-dimensional mirroring of conscious subjective experience from multiple levels and timelines archived in the viewers memory and imagination.

For example, consciously experiencing timelines as subjective movement or flow that infuses and informs the myriad states of mind that mirrors the vibrant forms, shapes and colors of my architectonic works is meant to evoke a provocative stream of consciousness as the past informs the present and the present and the past follow the arrow of time to imagine multiple future possibilities.

These pieces bear witness to the deeper cultural and species driven archetypes that define all human endeavors and have resulted in the creation of the architectonic structural organization of civilization from the simple to the ultra-complexity-based acceleration of science and technology. This body of work, hopefully, will challenge new and upcoming artists to observe and create in this new zeitgeist of a not so common era.

Consider THE EVOLUTION OF THE OMEGATROPOLIS THROUGH FOUR SEASONS OF ARCHITECTONIC METAMORPHOSIS. This work is a major accomplishment because it has evolved from my previous work titled “LOSING GRAVITY IN THE ORBITING MEGATROPOLIS”.

Each piece in OMEGATROPOLIS is 6‘ x 25 feet and will be placed on the wall as you first enter the museum. I used no template of any kind which allowed me to be exclusively driven by my creative imagination working through my intuition and experience.

I imagine OMEGATROPOLIS as the architecture of off-world colonies both in design and structure. The term omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet and is often used to denote the ultimate limit or sequence of a set and is also symbolic of spiritual evolution and enlightenment as the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one.

In this work, the completion of this set definition of omega is by way of an evolution of the OMEGATROPOLIS through four vibrant, seasonally specific colorings of architectonic metamorphosis from one season, or first in a set, to the next and to the final of the four pieces.

OMEGATROPOLIS isn’t necessarily making a statement about the triumph of technology. Future off world technology can only be triumphant if we give back what we’ve taken from the good earth to replenish it. Thus, when we do leave this world to explore other dimensions, we will leave behind a more pristine planet much like the symbol of the garden itself.

If OMEGATROPOLIS embodies the ancient myth of the garden, then the future will either be a repeat of the myth of being cast out only to explore for the sake of grim survival or to correct the mistakes beforehand and leave behind a replenished and balanced world. Only then can our exploration into the dimensions of other worlds be full of beauty, excitement, wonder, poetry and a transcendent, balanced union between art and science.

For me, OMEGATROPOLIS vibrates with an astonishing sense of wonder, visual poetry, captivating prismatic color and a vibrant current that it is a biosphere where each compartment is optimal in its function to preserve and maintain the integrity of life, purpose and architectural evolution.

The large sculptural work in wood is titled THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE MOVES THROUGH IRREGULAR ANGLES IN A RISING WALL FROM AN ARCHITECTONIC CITY WITHOUT NAME OR PLACE OR TIME.

For this labor-intensive sculptural work, I cut, planed, sanded and varnished 3000 pounds of wood. I wondered what could possibly navigate through this extraordinary obsessive display of so many different conceivable angles combined to create a structural union of positive and negative space?
Our conscious universe, in all of its basic underlying structural elements, is capable of such motion.

Light, traveling at its own speed limit, easily moves through these angles to illuminate them in the trichotomy of our conscious, preconscious and unconscious mind. In deeper levels of mind, the light-illuminated angles reveal the archived architectural archetype of the wall. In other words, the archetype manifests itself as that energy unique to our species that, in the awareness of a continuous informational wave form, becomes every conceivable wall that has ever been constructed.

Consciousness flows through these angular spaces as imagination, bearing its gift of creativity, rides the arrow of time into the future where other walls are waiting to be imagined and built from the unlimited imaginal.

In addition, dimensions of space-time pass through the here-now as time itself is the ever changing present in a trichotomy of past, present and future.
If the wall represents an architectonic city without a name or place or time, the challenge of the wall is in its representation as a metonymic metaphor of all the walls that divide us and foster the illusion of separateness. The angles can metaphorically attest to the numerous divisive systems of thought, belief, philosophy, religion, politics or other “angles” of obfuscation that humankind still uses and promotes under the pretense of safety, protection, security, misunderstanding or instinctual bias. These perspectives can only perpetuate our existential conflicts and nihilistic impulses.

If this continues, if the walls don’t come down and we don’t look through these angular spaces that could be openings for a rational understanding of the other side, then the future will look back at us and see dystopian cities of walls without name or place or time.

Near the RISING WALL we contemplate the WALL TEMPLE AT THE VANISHING POINT. These “no two are alike” shapy angular columns ascend, as many temples with towers do, into the sky emphasizing the direction that leads to the heavens above. The interior of the temples are thought to be filled with the higher energetic frequencies associated with spiritual dimensions of consciousness. Looking up at the tower from the ground, we can imagine the vanishing point, just like the vanishing point of skyscrapers or any towering structures. These structural points in space, albeit perceptual illusions of perspective, are symbolic of the invisible arrow of time forever pointing to the future as the forever visible vanishing point beckons us to look up into building new architectural structures for this or other worlds. Random ornamentation with small irregularly shaped, color-rich pieces accentuate the tower offering an unexpected contrast to the natural beauty of the plain wood and perhaps symbolizes the spiritual dimension of the interior.

Along the wall of the second floor are what I call CITYSCAPES OF ARCHITECTONIC METAMORPHOSIS FOR THE COMMON ERA. These hand-drawn cities rise above and below the constructed horizon. The heart and the spirit of these cities vibrate with a higher consciousness of a new era. This vision of new architecture has the potential for a higher state of global integration through the commonality of similar city skylines resulting from their architectonic metamorphosis from the older to the slightly varying new structures.

Adjacent to the wall of CITYSCAPES in the display window, I have placed my sculptural piece titled THE TOTEM OF THE MOON CASTLE. This fanciful concept resulted in using a variety of vibrant colors to be used for the geometric patterns, lines and shapes on a phantasmagoric totem where the moon castle quietly rests on top emanating it’s calming aura. The entire sculpture itself exemplifies the reciprocating structural and prismatic phenomena of geometric waves, vibrant frequencies and optic fields. This one-of-a-kind monument or totem is symbolic of moon colonization with the spire of the castle pointing to further exploration of our solar system from the eternal resting orbital moon as the totem stands in contrast to the dull grayish landscape of a barren moon.

In summary, I offer new multi-layered, architectonic structural representations of the countless trichotomies built into our universe. Our universe is made knowable through our self-reflecting subjective conscious experience of our limited but expanding brain interface with the changing mirror of reality. It is a reciprocating reality that inspires simultaneous parallels of the creative dynamic of making the invisible visible through and by way of the light that makes all created things and life possible.

Mela M
August, 2021


Reaching for the Stars: A Cosmic Vision of Hope, Patricia Watts, May 2020

Over the last five years, Mela Marsh, who prefers to go by simply M, has constructed a series of works that are psychic and psychedelic—manifestations derived from a growing consciousness that vast resources are being spent on preparations for humans to leave planet Earth. Having lived in Los Angeles for over twenty years and coming from post-Soviet Russia, M presents work evincing a cross between neo-futurist Syd Mead’s glowing sci-fi cities and revolutionary Kazimir Malevich’s geometric avant-garde paintings. She intuitively conflates painting and sculpture to construct architectonic hybrids that radiate shape-shifting energies, sending us worlds beyond.

Painters have made big leaps in recent years deciding where and how paintings can exist within the white cube. In this way, M’s sculptures are really paintings that have found a fresh placement. Anne Truitt, who explored the boundary between painting and sculpture with her characteristic vertical forms of assembled painted wood in the 1960s, is a subtle predecessor in setting color free into three dimensions. Yet M’s standing works are not reductive objects of formalism; they are pulsating visions comprised of individual works assembled as a group to create a transformational experience. M’s work communicates a future that resonates within, beyond the object.

Ever since she was a young girl, M has always looked up to the stars–perhaps a legacy of Russian Cosmism, in which colonizing space was believed to provide humans immortality and a carefree existence, a proposition of the Father of Rocketry, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. M’s interest in future worlds, providing an escape from our current reality, has been ongoing. Before and after arriving in the U.S., she made colorful kaleidoscopic paintings of figures or beings emanating from other planes. From 2000 to 2015, she created architectonic wall constructions, nonobjective and occasionally over eight feet high. Her shaped panel work represents a significant artistic contribution—from a female artist in Los Angeles—and has inspired many young artists through the years.

Starting in 2015, M began cutting wood into hundreds of geometric shapes and forms over several months without knowing what the end result would be. With these freshly cut pieces M made Pink Sun Over the City and dedicated it to Judy Chicago. In this work the artist connects with the archetypal feminine spirit, employing color as the medium of transmission. The hot pink awakens her architectonic forms with a vibration of female strength, something M feels is needed on Earth in this millennium. M states, “As a female artist, this painting shines and illuminates with the light and power of inspiration as it rises over this male-dominated world.”

In 2017, upon her return from a three-month residency in Japan, M made a visit to the SpaceX rocket facility in Los Angeles. This experience inspired her to assemble the wood forms into fifty-three sculptural pieces over the next three years. The series is titled Losing Gravity in the Orbiting Megatropolis and features geometric waves, vibrant fields, and optic frequencies. With these works, M shifts her focus beyond an attraction to architectonic forms into a transmutation of energy and planetary feminism, a personal vision of raising cosmic consciousness.

In 2020, continuing with this series during the pandemic, M has worked on at least ten to twenty pieces at one time. Cathedral Satellite Beacon on the Angular Topography of a Blue Moon is a smaller work placed on a pedestal. The cathedral is a celebration of what religion or spirituality might ascend to if our communion with a higher power were literally on a moon gazing back at Earth. The kaleidoscopic cathedral beams out a balanced energy, a synergistic oneness with the universe. It also doubles as a rocket.

A most impressive piece made right before quarantine is Escape from Retrograde Through a Shape Shifting Space Elevator with Abstract Quantum Enhancements. A fluorescent pink column 96 inches high is perched on a poured cement block base with seven structures seemingly losing gravity while leaving Earth. The base structure is de-lineated with a dark blue color, representing the male or Earth energy from which the feminine escapes skyward abandoning the masculine. Retrograde, going backwards, is no longer an option.

Architectural Solar Variations Across Space and Time no. 3 lies on the floor, freestanding, a polygon of energy looking displaced on a foreign surface. This prismatic jewel displays the characteristic of PaSColor, an acronym that M invented in 2018 to identify the relationship between painting and sculpture + color. The artist feels that the vibrant color spectrum she presents provides a frequency through which her audience can have a transformative encounter.

In the words of Carl Sagan, “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” M’s PaSColor works help to create a heightened sense of awareness of a more conscious balance of the feminine and masculine energies. Her work signals an awakening that is essential for humans to survive on planet Earth.

Patricia Watts
May 2020


On Mela M’s 917 ANGLED COLOR ENGINEERED FEM ELECTRIC BRIDGE, by Suzanne Bybee, 2020

917 ANGLED COLOR ENGINEERED FEM ELECTRIC BRIDGE
Losing Gravity in the Orbiting Megatropolis: geometric waves, vibrant fields and optic frequencies

Unseen shifts occur where we walk, drive, congregate and sleep. In the supercity seismic activity is a given; faults and thrusts shudder through multiple zones and sections in the Earth, moving without interruption – from somewhere deep within the core inhabitants on the surface encounter transference of these energies, emerging outward and pushing up. As these energies converge, a geodetic passage is forming where balanced pillars plucked from staccato Richter scale lines reveal transmissions of steep edges and open recesses in an accordion structure. In 917 Angled Color Engineered Fem Electric Bridge, forces unfold throughout the body of the composition, steadily generating the flow of lightning fast current that provides stature and gravitational strength to a developing edifice. This bridge is a delicate, vulnerable extension attentively fused; its sharp borders penetrate reverberating foundational legs – an accomplishment to fitfully connect forces into one uniform expansion of un-dimensional elements: it houses space and time, the remainder of details fashioned from eons of shaking and quaking repetitions, the accumulations retained, reimagined and harnessed to witness the creation of this tangible being. The rise and fall of so many contained lines creates a multitude of spellbound silhouettes that wash over this being, holding viewers’ attention in such a way that we must look for a point to focus upon, a useful spot in our spinning. The open mystery of the piece is compelling, sustaining a reverie between the familiar and the unrecognizable. The entry is accessible from either side, open but divided, its center an invisible portal – a representation magically superimposing the precision of technical line variances on shaped wood sequencing, its appearance like a crack in the wall, amplifying color decoded circuitry and tectonic messages. On one side it retains a flat demeanor: a neon pink binding carefully interspersed throughout inner contours, accentuating the outlines of the construction; on the other, topographic intersections recede into articulated beats of firmament blues and purples, neoprene greens and solar yellows; though it is stationary, contained consecutive steps are interchangeably energized moving in multiple directions all over its physical terrain. Dynamic feminine components disperse powerful charges into the object, coursing through visible highways widening and narrowing, navigating tricky bends where quick compensation is needed – high speed actions euphorically enveloping all connectors, traces, and shadows, embracing desires and great unknowns. This flexible and equally complex assemblage is imbued with prowess and strength, standing fully aware and self-assured. To pass through and around this entity the audience is made aware of oppositional forces at work, challenging preconceived concepts of what elements constitute architecture, painting, sculpture and installation – a renewed sense of awe connects the technical with the hand of the artist and the enhanced unpredictability of nature. The presence of image making is apparent; created with cathodes, anodes and excited electrons, a state of becoming is depicted, uniting indeterminate qualities with calculated production.

Suzanne Bybee
Artist and Writer
May 13th, 2020


Mela M - Light Benders and Altered Absorptions by Artist and Writer Suzanne Bybee. On @Retrograde Exhibition, Carnegie Art Museum Studio Gallery, Oxnard, CA, 2020

On @Retrograde exhibition, Carnegie Art Museum Studio Gallery, Oxnard, CA February-June 2020

What is yet to come echoes in the present and in this section of the solar system the transfiguration of bodies celebrating pathways of perception through shape, carefully developed color, and elevated connections represent the creative renewal and repurposing of place. Synthesizing intimate accents and inclines, the builder/artist, explores spatial advancements through the use of familiar flat constructions opening up constrained proportions – through repetition on these surfaces, line temporality is explored and the cultivation of depth through color considerations and arrangements harmonizes elastic variances.

It isn’t what is heard so much as what is seen or felt, an unanticipated blossoming into an otherwise white interior. In the group exhibition @Retrograde, one contained room offers a sensory surprise. Though the title implies one thing, it is clear we are not moving back – in particular the dramatic pull forward is into an accelerating, transformative space. Beyond an entry without a door, a quartet created by Mela M. entices viewers to float into an optical sonata. That which is emitted strains the eyes, the light bending, shifting from the monumental to the small, and back, myriad directional combinations careening and caressing shards of searing color. The mood is not disorienting, rather a welcome scene of expansion washes over you – voluminous, sweeping large, even as some part of the space is contracting, dashing towards the minute, all the while giddy, electric. But let’s slow it down to experience the pieces, to consider the subtleties unfolding.

Kneeling as if to take a moment to catch its breath, a sentinel at the entry of the chamber beckons from a tower. The form’s spiky adornment colorfully juts out, a small presence, designed to give pause in a revved scene. Lines are racing and tracing in and around its countenance marking memory, counting passages of time in every crevice. As multiple silhouettes beam from its profile, Cathedral Satellite Beacon on the Angular Topography of a Blue Moon consolidates molecules that are optical blades of grass piercing the atmosphere which extend above an urban horizon – it lunges, intercepting, incorporating and coupling kaleidoscopic crystals, playfully reaching out. As you walk around it, small talismanic islands erupt from its landscape, carefully placed windows into the personality of its surface. It propels itself in the direction of another form from where it is gleaning energy, its presence a force anticipating the dynamics of other components in this space.

One object of central balance to the quartet, The Authority of Color at the Speed of Light, is a virtual power house, refracting from within its core a supply of energy sustaining all matter in the room. In its center there is a recognizable icon edging up to the surface: a star pulsating, ebbing out of the uniform terrain, a ship traversing bands of angularity changing speeds alone by color arrangements loosened, and then tightened again by containments of ultra-violets, blues and pale pinks. As it sparkles it is hard to distinguish where multi-dimensional shaping begins or where one mesmerizing, undulating quiver ends. The arms of this pulsar travel high over each side, balancing fused fragments, carried up by variegated ladders; their infinitesimal outlines penetrating deep into the interior. It is extruding from the wall, suspending immersive bandwidths of deep space replicating internally, beating out a ritual for regeneration. Its nature is architectural, crafted and animated with deceptively simple exactness; it reaches toward a neighbor longingly though it may shoot back to the heavens at any moment, the star ecstatic. An exquisitely prismatic instrument is incrementally stretching upward, Escape from Retrograde Through a Shape Shifting Space Elevator with Abstract Quantum Enhancements, highlights a lyrical transporter lifting and descending simultaneously – each access point measuring depths and heights equally, carved geological fronds arranged symbolically fanning a cityscape. Sun rays merge with the buildings and wrap around the blocks exploring perspectives from steep precipices, falling up and enveloping the next location. One segment is a mimic excerpt inserted from another variation in the room, a deep cobalt molded cornerstone anchoring the candy pink firmament. Its’ close relative on a nearby wall merges natural and technical worlds, feminine layers replicating into the deep – in this setting it contributes to strengthening the sequenced steps of the transporter to generate a continuum; a solid pink belt supports this perpetual system, providing stability and the possibility of further replication.

On a wall with tight shadows casting, a thick solid ultramarine descends into midnight, its water/land mass absorbing indigo rubber bands which hold together elements directed back into a central core. Here an intricately arranged city skims the surface, an echo of an opening between the material and the immaterial, where alterity thrives and sophisticated intersections abound. The epic, A Prismatic Home of the New Uncommon Era with Bridges Over the Purple Void Losing Gravity in the Orbiting Metropolis: Geometric Waves, Vibrant Fields and Optic Frequencies, bridges deep surface compilations with utopian overpasses built from dizzying perspectives and complex boundaries. Everything is attracted to an edge, an engaged post historic embrace viewed from an aerial vantage point coming from distant space.

As bodies, we sense the presence of wavelengths emanating from these assembled surfaces pushing and pulling their encoded linear intimacies, expanding razor technicolor hues, glimmering and ricocheting. Hewn layers add heft to repetitions that are the building tools of these pantheist architectures, emitting electric pulses that alter awareness of the environment and their individual elements– shifting. The hard edge of painting merges with the literal edge of construction, PaSColor (where painting and sculpture meet, a term coined by the artist) forms are punctuated by precision and a hint of chance, swell with energy to convey possible outcomes. These intertwined markers place future views in front of us, an opportunity for considering innovative actions and designs as revelatory connections to new states of vitality and vision.

Because of their tight specifics one would think these works would be restrictive, instead the pieces produce room for reimagining the beauty of the conceptual universe – strata gleaned from the provenance of architectonics, storytelling produced from poetical thinking. Surface tensions dissipating, design, sculpture and painting cross preconceived boundaries, amplifying layered components begat from reflections of the world and projected onto characters yet to be imagined. The magic of these object variations distill sensory illusions and ambitiously invite us to peer deeper into and through the lens of time, releasing preconceived limitations and rationalizations to celebrate the unknown and the existence of alternate symbols.

Suzanne Bybee
Artist and Writer
April 2020


PROPOSAL FOR INTERACTIVE INSTALLATION METROPOLIS BY MELA M by Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette, 2018

Well known on three continents for her geometric installations, Mela M is a Postmodern inheritor of a Modernist legacy. Her most immediate formal ancestor may be El Lissitzky whose famed Proun Room debuted in 1923, one hundred years ago. “Prouns,” as the artist explained, existed in a liminal zone, caught someplace between drawing and sculpture.

In using the evocative metaphor of traveling, El Lissitzky explained that his painted forms were “the station where one changes from painting to architecture.” In other words, art has moved off the wall—ceased to be an inert painting—to a new site—becoming the wall or architecture itself.

A twenty-first century builder, Mela M is a constructor in the pure sense of the word. Each object she makes is a part of a greater metropolis that she has redefined as imaginary dislocations. Imagine an agglomeration of built objects, carefully constructed so as to defy identification. Think of forms that have no discernable function, existing solely in terms of color. Hue, rather than functionality, rules these shapes that share certain basic characteristics.

The fragments begin as flat pieces of raw wood, rectangles projecting flanges like fins. Rather than seeming inert or frozen, the cutouts of Mela M seem to be alive and growing and expanding but for what purpose? As we enter into this broken metropolis, we are forced to make our own interpretations.

The viewer is placed in a zone of ambivalence: is this a living being, throwing off extensions or is this a mere dead fragment, broken from something larger that is now lost? What this artist is doing is making art by presenting building as an activity, legitimate in and of itself.

Although any one of these objects can and does stand on its own as a work of art, each element is also destined to be one part that composes in a collective mass. Mela M creates what appear to be building blocks, but, while they can conceptually connect with each other, the parts cannot make a whole.

The swirling metropolis of Mela M is in turmoil, spewing fragments that transform the gallery into a space for the viewer to wander through a tsunami of forms and color.

Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette
Los Angeles area writer and critic.
November 8th, 2018


MAKING THE METROPOLIS: THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT OF MELA M by Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette, 2018

This is the memory map of Mela M: the secrets that lies beneath the sea, the lost cities, the forgotten civilizations, covered by the rolling deep. She is an internationally known artist who thinks of poetry when she dreams of these silent cities, scattered in broken pieces, drifted across the sands. Haunted by the long-lost cities that have sunk under the waves, ancient towns that have been swept away by an encroaching sea, the artist dreams of buildings crumbled and tossed away in a tsunami, entire societies vanished and swallowed up by earthquakes. Under the wine dark seas, there is an entire built environment, a past recovered by divers and treasure hunters and archaeologists; a past that needs to be reconstructed.

This great unknown is the realm that exist under the sea. Only recently have devices been invented that allow us to map the ocean floor and to plumb the depths of the canyons that scar the floors of our planet. New ways of mapping have revealed not just an expanded geography but also sunken ruins that once were cities where people lived and loved and died. Streets where vendors plied their wares lie inert beneath the weight of water. Surviving walls that once were homes rise here and there. Presided over by drifting seaweed, these forgotten places are visited by darting fish and lie mute in their dark graves.

While she was working in Japan, Mela M became fascinated by the sunken city off the southern coast of Japan, known as The Yonaguni Monument. However, what makes this site unique is that this monolith rearing up from the seabed is caught halfway between two states. Are the structures off the coast of Yonaguni Jima an ancient city or are they rock formations pushed to the surface by earthquakes? The diver who discovered the terraces, Masaaki Kimura, is convinced that the rising walls are those of an ancient city, which sank thousands of years ago. But others disagree with the geologist and believe the site to be broken ledges of sharp-edged sandstone. If it is a city; it has no name. But other ancient cities that lie beneath the ocean retained their names.

Existing somewhere between science and poetry, between fact and wish, the ambivalent site in Japan was celebrated by Mela M in an expansive plateau of slabs, blue like the sea, unidentifiable as human habitation and yet clearly the product of human invention. The undecided place, so old that it eludes definability led the way to Mela M’s latest project.

Well known on three continents for her geometric installations, Mela M is a Postmodern inheritor of a Modernist legacy. Her most immediate formal ancestor may be El Lissitzky whose famed Proun Room debuted in 1923, one hundred years ago. “Prouns,” as the artist explained, existed in a liminal zone, caught someplace between drawing and sculpture. In using the evocative metaphor of traveling, El Lissitzky explained that his painted forms were “the station where one changes from painting to architecture.” In other words, art has moved off the wall—an inert painting to be looked at—to a new site—becoming the wall or architecture itself.

On the walls of his room, the shapes of El Lissitzky became dynamic elements in a theater for architecture. Before his time, the Russian artist introduced the idea of “theatricality” and installation, transforming art into what he wanted to be a new form of architecture. Once the viewer was directed by the artist to move around the room, following the shapes, the notion of time was introduced, and, with time, theatricality.

Like a play in a theater, the Proun existed only when the viewer was in the room. In the same way, the installation ceases to function without people to activate it. It is this quality of time and the significance of human habitation that allies El Lissitzky to architecture. Like El Lissitzky, Mela M has built an environment, a place where people can wander and wonder.

But she has exceeded her predecessor. Mela M has built a city similar to El Lissitzky. She started from flat and progressed to three dimensional forms, but the sources of her inspirations are both ancient and modern. El Lissitzky lived on the edge of great change, making art in the midst of a political and aesthetic revolution. But Mela M is watching her world being ravaged by environmental forces which are tearing it apart. If El Lissitzky had hopes for beginnings, Mela M wants us to reconsider what it means to build, to make, to construct, in the most literal sense of the word, a place for humans to live.

By “place” she is referring to earth itself, and this earth is all we have. The sunken cities are a warning and a prediction of the future that is coming in our century. We are watching the makings of our own Yonaguni. Miami is sinking, New York will be swallowed by ocean. Venice has become a city one rows through and the distinction between street and canal is getting lost. As if to counteract the dangers of obliteration, Mela M builds new environments. Her metanomic allusions to buildings may be quite real, but what Mela M constructs is totally metaphorical and completely poetic.

She builds carefully by hand, piece by piece, fragment by fragment. Her studio space could be mistaken for that of a professional carpenter, and her work is an extremely precise act of craft. Working obsessively, she generates hundreds of shapes and forms, which, like puzzle pieces, may or may not ever be fitted together.

If we think of Mela M in conventional terms, she would be an additive maker. In other words, she moves from basic to the simple, to the complex and complicated, creating more and more pieces, which, in turn, are added to more and more forms. To the word “additive” should be added the concept of “elements” or parts that may or may not belong to a whole. Another thought would be “slice,” indicating that somewhere there might be a single unit, or that in the future there might be a completed accumulation.

But for now, Mela M keeps the art objects suspended between the spaces of making, constructing and becoming.  Mela M is making allegories that transcend symbol making and she uses the tactic of allegory to force the viewer into a state of extended contemplation of the meaning of form itself. Mela M is a constructor in the pure sense of the word. Each object she makes is a part of a greater environment, the metropolis that she is building.

Imagine an agglomeration of built objects, carefully constructed so as to defy identification. Imagine forms that have no discernable function, existing in terms of color. Hue, rather than functionality, rules these shapes that share certain basic characteristics. The fragments begin as flat pieces of raw wood, rectangles projecting flanges like fins. Rather than seeming inert or frozen, the cutouts of Mela M seem to be alive and growing and expanding but for what purpose? Once again, the viewer is placed in a zone of ambivalence: Is this a living being, throwing off extensions or is this a fragment, broken from something larger? Either way, the original use is unclear, and then we are forced to make our own interpretations.

And the mystery of Mela M’s poetic shards deepens. She doubles the shape, adds thickness with new shapes on all four sides. Mela M makes three-dimensional shapes.

What this artist is doing is making art by presenting building as an activity, legitimate in and of itself. Although any one of these objects can and does stand on its own as a work of art, each element is also destined to be one part that composes in a collective mass. The viewer begins to wonder about the protrusions that jut out and thinks of joints and joins and connections. Has the artist constructed thick slices that can eventually be slotted into another slice? Mela M creates what appear to be building blocks but while they can conceptually connect with each other, they cannot make a whole. The metropolis is in turmoil, spewing fragments. The theme of separateness is elevated by the way that Mela M paints the fragments. Each object is its own shape and this distinctness becomes more apparent as the wooden structure is transformed from raw to flat white to a smooth sanded finish, ready to take coats of paint.

The colors of Mela M’s “building blocks” are stunning and striking, running in a riot of running colors. In building her metropolis, Mela M fills the space with shapes that stride visually into view. This is an alive environment that refuses restraint. Today, ancient cities and old ruins are pure stone but once the façades were brilliant and polychromed in an exuberance that defies today’s taste for subdued colors. The Parthenon was positively gaudy, and the classical Roman buildings left no surface untouched and unembellished. Just as the glittering encrustations disguised the structure and the Roman engineering, Mela M evokes the ancient in postmodern terms by overdetermining shape and color, reminding us that the ancients decorated the surfaces of their buildings.

Modernism ushered in long theoretical discussions over the merits of “dressed” and “undressed” architectural exteriors, with modernism and its lack of ornamentation being scandalously “nude.” Postmodernism brought color back to architecture but often with caution. Mela M revels in the freedom to paint any color on any surface in any combination and creates a built environment that redresses the discussion of façade in architecture. Her metropolis is a city dancing with joy, flaunting its fashion, reveling in the display of exquisite craft. This is how humans create their built environments—we want to enrich the earth, mimicking its manifold colors and forms. Rather than making the surface a modernist backdrop, she explores the possibilities of making a flat plane come to life. Never introducing dimension and keeping her designs strictly graphic, Mela M paints a flat color over the construction and then she adds layers of colors, building a progression of hues marching across the face of her shapes.

The colored designs force a dialogue between the form and the colors that disguise and enhance its object-ness. But she does not stop with flat colors. Mela M then introduces a verbal/visual pun on the idea of building: she literally builds up and out small squares of color, smaller square growing on top of a larger square. These tiers of thick paint segments are attached arbitrarily to the structures. This extreme complexity that is a play between flat and raised, suggests a deliberate bas relief that plays with idea of a growth or a crust that has naturally evolved. As the audience is forced by the elaborate play of tropes to examine each element of every construction, a truth slowly dawns: the artist has built a metropolis that is deconstructing itself. The shapes are in a state of upheaval, twisting themselves inside out and throwing themselves upside down. Far from being inert pieces of wood, the forms are alive and interacting with each other.

Once again Mela M places the viewer in a liminal zone: she is building a work of architecture that is all façade. There is no enclosure; there are only pieces that imply the future or past possibility of a compound. If her architecture is all façade, it is also all surface. The idea of communication among the fragments is enhanced by the small appendages or star like shapes that can be added to or hooked on the fins of the larger forms. These are like ornaments and announce that the house that is being built by Mela M is a place where the audience can wander and play and even participate in “making” the environment.

If she is building a city, then this is a city in flux, strewn about the room as if it was taken up by a giant tsunami which churns buildings into splinters that swirl in the waves. In this activity, the shapes become waves and lose their role as elements of a whole. The form is denied a unity through the disruption of colors that change as the structure is rotated from side to side, from edge to edge.

The viewer is expected to spend time with each segment, examine its top, its bottom, and its edges. Mela M offers an infinite variety of perspectives for each building block. The solidity of form is broken with molten colors that are red and orange and volcanic, suggesting an inwardly burning wave of lava which pushes the city into the sea. The Metropolis is in motion, like a Proun, it is traveling.   And yet the fragments preserve the idea of the city while the colors retain the remains of a metropolis as it collides with the sea.

The elements that were once part of a city become, through an act of formal metamorphosis, fish-like shapes that now slip through the enveloping waters and swim through the waves. The basic colors of the fragments are sea blue and sky gray, but these surface hues are overlaid with dazzling patches of color and intriguing phalanges that reach out. Imagine a metropolis that is rising and rolling on the waves, unraveling, and becoming an environment that is suspended in time and space simultaneously, and you will have visited the Metropolis of Mela M.

Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette
Los Angeles area writer and critic.
October 29th, 2018