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