Artist Jen Ervin: The Arc (of Summer)

Written by Anne Silver

 

“There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.” 
― Shel SilversteinWhere the Sidewalk Ends

 


Adults and children alike have an intrinsic need for those places off the beaten path, beyond where the hard road turns to gravel, beyond where the sidewalk ends. We need places where the air is clean, where the light is pure, where the shadows are deep.    Stripped of the trappings and busy-ness of our modern age, they remain consistent year after year.   Everything here is comfortable and worn and familiar.  We disengage from the outside world.  Surrounded by nature, we succumb to its rhythms.  Despite the call of the great horned owl that pierces the darkness, we sleep more deeply.  Despite the humidity of the southern air, we breathe more easily.  Despite the heaviness of the heat which slows our footsteps, we tread more softly.  

American artist Jen Ervin’s The Arc (of Summer) speaks to us of such a place.  Rooted in her connections to family and a strong sense of place,  Jen’s photos pay homage to the luminous moments of childhood, to simple pleasures, to languid afternoons.  She offers us a backstage pass where we witness magic and memories in the making:  days spent swimming in the river, evenings spent chasing fireflies, nights spent eating s'mores around a bonfire.   These photos portray the ephemeral nature of childhood and innocence, a bittersweet notion that is reinforced by the choice of black and white film.  Children change and grow.  They leave the nest.  That is in their job description.   We can feel Jen's urgency, as a photographer and as a mother, to document and preserve these treasured moments.  We can imagine her daughters, at some future point in their lives, sifting through a veritable hope chest filled with photographs, adrift on the flood waters of memory.  And we smile.  We feel the tug of nostalgia for the summers of our youth; and for those of us whose children are now grown, for the summers when they were still young.   By sharing her sensibility as an artist and these intimately captured moments, Jen Ervin invites us, in the gentlest of ways, to sink into our own experiences and to remember.  

 

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”

L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

 

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Of her work, Jen says, "The Arc (of Summer) is a collection of Polaroid prints that I began in 2012 and remains in progress. It celebrates the ethereal world of childhood, the waxing and waning of summer, and the wild desire to remain in its embrace. These images were made with my family near our historic cabin, set deep in the woods of South Carolina along the Little Pee Dee River. Here we weave our southern family history into the present to create our own mythology.

 

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"Ark Lodge, our cabin of refuge, is a place where time stands still. While the cabin itself was built over 70 years ago, it rests secluded in a landscape that has managed to escape modernization for centuries. Whenever we arrive, we instantly slow down, breathe deeper and become enveloped in its hauntingly, beautiful presence. This is especially so on long summer days when it is unbearably hot, humid and buggy. Somehow we have all learned to quiet our minds and move only in small increments to maintain as much coolness, as we can. Consequently, these slow actions deepen our awareness of our surroundings. We automatically lose our sense of time, and it can sometimes feel as if we are floating in and out of dream world.

 

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"I was led to use Polaroid as medium for this project because each image immediately becomes an object of experience. There is a certain level and quality of intimacy I am looking for in creating my images. Polaroid provides me with one-of-a-kind imperfections that evoke a familiar and nostalgic vulnerability. They’re magical. Despite their smallness, they can contain the uncontainable and reveal a universal humanness." – Jen Ervin, Ark Lodge, Summer 2016

 

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“There are no happy endings.

Endings are the saddest part,

So just give me a happy middle

And a very happy start.”

Shel Silverstein,

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Jen Ervin's prestigious work has been widely featured in solo and group expositions throughout the United States, in magazines, and online.  She was a featured photographer in the Lenscratch States Project for her home state of South Carolina.  Jen has received numerous photography awards and honorable mentions.  She has been a lecturer, a teacher, a juror, and a portfolio reviewer.  

 

You can connect with Jen Ervin on Instagram and through her website.

You can connect with Anne Silver and Pryme Editions on Instagram.

 

*All photos are the exclusive property of ©Jen Ervin, 2018, and may not be used in any way without the author's written permission.

©PRYME Editions, 2018.

 

Artist Nikita Gross, Crossing paths with Magic (NSFW)

Written by Anne Silver


 

“You won't forget a woman like her, easily anyway. 
Once you cross paths with Magic, it's hard to see life the same.” 
― Nikki Rowe

 

 

There are some books which we stumble upon at just the right time in our lives.  Their titles call out to us from among the rows of dusty bookshelves.  We pick them up with excited curiosity, asking ourselves, "What is this one all about?"  Trusting our instinct, we dive into this sea of words, swimming through the paragraphs and pages. And when we emerge, when we finish the last page and close the book, we are somehow profoundly different.  We no longer see ourselves or the world in the same way.  The book becomes a part of who we are.  Its story mingles with our own, its dog-eared pages incorporated into a certain chapter of our lives. 

 Women Who Run with the Wolves: Stories and Myths of the Wild Woman Archetype by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD., (New York: Ballentine, 1992) was that book for me.  Dr. Pinkola Estés, is a Jungian analyst, a first-generation American woman who grew up in a family that collected folk tales and handed them down to later generations in the same way that we hand down our treasured family heirlooms.  This book uses the power of storytelling and metaphor as medicine, to help women discover and nurture the unadulterated, wild, feminine spirit within.  It helps us to connect with our need to create, to discover our truths, and to tap into that passion.  Creation, being an act of giving birth, allows us to bring forth something that comes from our deepest, most soulful places.  Dr. Pinkola Estés helps us to recognize the traps that can stall our creativity, zap our inspiration, deplete our psychic energy. And she provides us with ways to learn to listen to our own wisdom, in order to release ourselves from the things that keep our spirits shackled and caged. Dr. Pinkola Estés writes: "Within every woman, there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species. Though the gifts of wildish nature come to us at birth, society's attempt to ‘civilize’ us into rigid roles has plundered this treasure and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls. Without Wild Woman, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative, trapped."

The first time I saw Nikita Gross’ photographs, I was immediately flooded with thoughts of this iconic book. There is something of Dr. Pinkola Estés’  “Wild Woman” archetype in each of her photos.  Using her own visual language, Nikita speaks to us of creation and connection, of giving birth, not just in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense, of the cycles and seasons in a woman’s life.  There is something elemental, fundamental even, in the interplay between the women in her photos and their interaction with the natural world.  She brings us into her world, into a place where we cross paths with magic.

 

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“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories... water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

 

In the way she brings her visions to life, in her carefully crafted compositions, in her juxtapositions of light and shadow, in her explorations of the sacred feminine, in her representations of the sacred, and in showing us what it means to surrender, body and soul...

Nikita Gross does exactly that— she and her visual stories burst into bloom.  

 

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“I’ll tell you right now, the doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.” 

— Dr. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Phd.  Women Who Run with the Wolves: Stories and Myths of the Wild Woman Archetype.

 

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Nikita says, "Deeply inspired by mysticism and motherhood, my work is a representation of the feminine spirit that is the basis for all life.  My work pays homage to mystery and portrays a sincere longing for that which is not known.   I am attempting to release the power that lies beyond pain.  The pinnacle of pleasure for me is creation.  I become a conduit, an expression of the divine.  Making art is my surrender, it is my prayer."

 

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“I am not delicate.
I am skinny dipping at 2am;
I am dancing naked under the full moon and playing in the mud.
I am the reverberating echoes of a curse word ricocheting off the steeply sloping mountain you thought I couldn’t climb;
I am bare skin in the deepest depths of winter; I am the song of courage, and the melody of freedom you long to sing.
I am a fearless mother.
I am a passionate lover; a devoted friend.
I am the healer, the witch, the nurturing of your wounds.
I am the heat of a wildfire, the rage of a storm.
I am strong.
Delicate things are pretty-cute, even.
But I am not delicate.
I am wild, fierce and unpredictable.
I am breathtaking.
I am beautiful.
I am sacred.” 
― Brooke Hampton

 
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“The most important thing is to hold on, hold out, for your creative life, for your solitude, for your time to be and do, for your very life; hold on, for the promise from the wild nature is this: after winter, spring always comes.” 

—Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD., Women Who run with the Wolves:  Stories and Myths of the Wild Woman Archetype.

 

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Nikita Gross lives in Cincinnati Ohio with her partner and son.  She is a wedding and portrait photographer, celebrating life’s intimate moments through art.  

Her Polaroid work has been showcased during EXPolaroid in Paris.  She has also been featured in Hylas Magazine, Impossible Project Magazine,  She Shoots Film Magazine, and Manifest Gallery Photography Annual.

She is currently creating work for her first solo show, planned for 2019.

 

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“For some, she came in a dream. For others in words as clear as a bell: it is time, I am here. She may come in a whisper so loud she can deafen you or a shout so quiet you strain to hear. She may appear in the waves or the face of the moon...”

Lucy H. Pearce, Burning Woman

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You can connect with Nikita Gross on her Website

and on Instagram  @nikitagross and @_marriedtothemoon_

You can connect with Pryme Editions and Anne Silver on Instagram as well.  

*All photos ©Nikita Gross, 2018.  Photos may not be used without the owner's written permission. 

©Pryme Editions, 2018.