Jocelyn Marsh’s nature-inspired sculptural lighting is immersive and transportive.
By Kelly Phillips Badal
Good lighting is a great fixer: It can lift your spirits, relax you, make you more productive, even beautify you for a Zoom call. But the imaginative sculptural lighting that L.A. artist Jocelyn Marsh creates goes far, far beyond that. This is lighting that serves to illuminate your soul.
Actually, it’s off-base to even define her work as simply ‘sculptural lighting.’ More accurately, her pieces are fine art sculptures that happen to have a lighting element to them. The glow that they emit is attractive in the same way that a moth cannot resist the lure of a flame. “It’s almost like I’m not making a light fixture, I’m making a piece of art that has light involved—it’s just another aspect of the art piece,” says Marsh, adding that lighting is something that she organically incorporated over the years. “The light emanating from my artwork is another layer of depth that brings to life the ethereal feeling I always tend to work in.”
The immersive worlds she creates are beautiful departures from reality rendered in porcelain, precious metals and dainty chains, all inspired by a reverence for nature. Under Marsh’s hands, brilliant gold-bodied butterflies multiply into infinity, glowing porcelain-cast Sea Poison tree pods spiral in waves and glistening plated dried flowers, branches, and plants draw you in for a closer look. A peek into Marsh’s imaginative world is an instant escape—one that, after a year so many of us spent largely at home, is perhaps exactly what we need right now.
Whether you’re eyeing her waterfall-like “Shoumei” light sculptures or are drawn in by one of her signature butterfly infinity mirrors, her work has an essence of the fantastical mixed in with recognizable naturally-found objects and creatures. “There’s always a kind of magical quality to the work that I do, because that’s what I respond to myself,” she says. “My sense of wonder about nature, about the life cycle and the magic of it all—like, where did we come from, where are we going—it’s fascinating. That’s part of my entire body of work.”
Marsh loves to mine nature for fresh ideas, but other than missing travel, the onset of pandemic actually allowed her to flourish even more, even solo within her studio. She describes herself as being in “investigative mode” with porcelain, and the extra time she’s had this past year has fast-tracked her discoveries. Some of her latest work, the Sea Poisson collection, features suspended porcelain pods cast from an original Sea Poison tree pod from Hawai'i, arranged in a constellation pattern. She’s currently tweaking the lighting effect, absorbed in the Herculean effort to light every single individual pod with a hair-fine wire and teeny bulb. The effect, she imagines, will be nothing short of extraordinary.
Most of March’s work resides within private buildings, but she’s represented by San Francisco’s Coup D'Etat gallery, which is planning to open a second location in Los Angeles sometime soon. Two of her gold-plated “Big Blue Whale” chandeliers hang in Herringbone restaurant at Mondrian LA; another hotel commission is currently in the works. Select pieces are also available through Jean de Merry in Los Angeles and New York.
Marsh’s hope is that everyone who responds to her artwork is filled with the same sense of wonder she taps into so regularly. “That sense of wonder can sneak away from you as an adult,” she says. “I remember being with a friend on the beach, and seeing 10 or so pelicans flying over—which is the coolest thing ever, as they’re so slow and low and big—and pointing at them, saying, ‘Look, look!’ And my friend just said something like, ‘Jocelyn, they’re birds.’”
The takeaway here? Stay fascinated. Stay curious. Stay interested and engaged. And when you can’t, let Jocelyn Marsh’s captivating artwork help you rediscover that part of yourself.
Follow more of Jocelyn Marsh’s journey on Instagram, @jocelynmarsh