Imagine for a moment the atmosphere; the invisible, delicate barrier between the planet we live on and the heavens above. And around. Below. Imagine if the atmosphere was a person, someone who can watch everyone living their lives from day to day, but is equally aware of the moon and stars, knows the planets, even the ones we can’t see by name, and from a bird’s eye view, also watches the seasons come and go, looks forward to springtime when the cherry blossoms bloom, and more than anything finds a certain joy when those blossoms fall like rain through a golden light and collect on a park bench where a mother sits with her child, pointing at the sky, teaching him what magic is, knowing the laws of nature by heart. Imagine a person caught between worlds , with an overwhelming love for both. We all yearn to belong somewhere, and with the heavens and and an eternal springtime to choose between; after all, it is always springtime somewhere, how would a person decide?
Meet Nikita Gross. An artist who longs to connect on a deep and spiritual level to the people around her, yet has a heart that clearly belongs to the stars. It is likely because of this inherent dichotomy, the struggle to live in a world where she feels far from home that her art is born. The very process of trying to make sense of two different worlds almost produces art by itself, similar to friction from two things rubbing against each other, Nikita acting as a conduit that art moves through like wind. The rest of us are left to observe an other-worldly spectacle, as a group of three females seem to rise out of the ground like vapor, a girl’s profile reveals that she is actually partly made of flowers, a silhouette shows quite clearly that a woman is just stepping out of the sun.
Based solely on her artwork, it is sometimes difficult to believe that in reality, Nikita Gross is not a magician, or a myth of a pseudo-human who lives in the atmosphere. The surreal artwork she creates is her means of navigating the world she lives in, her method of communication, the natural result of a gifted human being living the kind of life the breathes beauty and love into an often dark world, lighting a spark that ignites a fire in the souls of her loved ones as well as a great many who have not had the tremendous fortune of meeting her in person or even shaking her hand.
Nikita doesn’t just create art as a hobby. By profession, she is a wedding photographer, and just imagine it… Your “big day” left in the more than competent hands of someone whose mere humanity is questionable. Instead of your wedding album containing the sort of portraits where everyone is doing their best to smile for the camera, you have a unique documentation where it is difficult to discern if these are photos of a wedding or artwork that should be hung on the walls of museums. Suddenly Romeo and Juliet would be jealous that their love story isn’t the greatest history has ever seen; the soft glow of your bride’s bouquet could only have been picked in the garden of Eden at twilight, she is staring out a window of what must be a castle so high in the sky that the light shines… so brilliantly that you understand how long of a journey that light embarked upon, through space, through the sky, just to rest with the softest hand on your bride’s face. When you think you are having a private moment in the forest, away from the crowd of family and friends on your wedding day, Nikita is there in the distance to capture the tenderest of moments on the most special of days.
These photos are examples of a new package she has started offering with her wedding photography. All taken with Polaroid cameras and film made by The Impossible Project, the company that began making film when Polaroid ceased the production of film for their classic cameras, it is the perfect medium for capturing the magic that quite obviously moves through her. “Love is the language that art communicates,” she said, on the subject of how her art relates to wedding photography, which is what makes the work Nikita creates so perfect for her chosen trade. However, being a “professional” comes second, as it does to every true artist. Nikita is a dreamer, in the most please-don’t-make-me-wake-up-from-this sense of the word.
Just as she uses instant photography with classic, Polaroid cameras as a bonus in her wedding photography, it is also the primary medium she has chosen in her art. Her calling is connecting with people, and instant photography was the missing link in a lifetime of feeling such overwhelming energy move inside and through her, knowing there were muses just waiting for her to let them through her many doors. She especially enjoys working with expired film, as it lends an added charm and spirit of its own, accentuating the already majestic vision seen and honestly felt through her art. Having already had such an emotional response to her creations, I was not surprised when she clearly stated, “I want to evoke emotion. I want to sing and dance with the kindred kind. I want you to know you are not alone.”
There is a strong, enigmatic feminine presence in much of her work that is powerful and full of wonder. To conjure such mystery, such powerful emotion is a gift that doesn’t just flirt with, but is seeped in magic, and that spirited presence is fluent throughout her art.
Nikita recently gave birth to a baby boy, and this has only added to the way she perceives the world, and therefore translates into her creations. Raising a child, she is seeing much of life as if for the first time, which communicates a fresh perspective into a world most of us already are not able to easily see. Still, as much as “life,” as we call it, that she participates in, communicates for those of us who don’t fully understand, as much as she is present for our day to day routines, she is still, if only figuratively, that girl who is living between worlds. We can view her life, her work, try to understand her translations as we may, but it is evident that her heart belongs to the stars. There simply is no other way such other-worldly work can be created, unless you are truly, at least partly, living in another world. Which makes the name she has given to her artistic work make more sense than any of us may ever know. “Married to the Moon,” is what Nikita calls it, and it is with the same wonder that we gaze at the moon that we gaze upon her art. Which begs only one question, for this dreamer, this mother, this passionate friend, wedding photographer and gifted artist; who will photograph a wedding for an ethereal soul who lives, at least half-way, among us, as she marries the celestial body that controls the tides and plays a waxing and waning game of hide and seek?
“The moon is full of secrets,” Nikita says. I can only guess the answer lies somewhere within.