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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
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."
“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
“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.
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.