Nicki, in Front of and Behind the Camera
"Five years ago, pregnant with my second daughter and carting around my first, my dear friend Jesse Marble and I scaled flower-covered hills in Echo Park in the midday heat to shoot photos together for my first Dôen Journal feature. Everything Jesse touched turned to fine art, and our afternoon together was so very *her*: we met at a seemingly random location behind a chain-link fence, hoisted my daughter Cami (then four years old) into a patch of wild blooms while Jesse clicked away, chattering only about the wonder of this little floral hill adjacent to a construction site, with no mention of the sweltering temps or the precarious ledge upon which she was perched. Her perspective was like no other—always sunny with zero chance of negativity—and she was, and is to this day, the only human I've ever met to have unlocked the true meaning of beauty.
In June of last year, Jesse lost her battle with lymphoma. Two months prior, I was diagnosed with leukemia. The shock and heartbreak and grief is still too much to bear, so rather than detail my experience with blood cancer (much of which I have yet to process), I'm choosing to focus on the levity of that day together in 2017 with a heap of dresses and a sea of petals. In Jesse's honor and in memory of that particular shoot that holds so much meaning, I've created a special print of an image I shot on film following my final round of chemo, after I was released from my 86th day in the hospital. Once I had gained enough strength to travel, my family and I drove north up the coast to San Luis Obispo, and while strolling the cliffside at golden hour, I felt Jesse's presence so intensely in the glimmering sea and vibrant yellow blooms that lined our hiking path. The resulting image from this moment in time is my gift to Jesse and those that are fighting similar battles. I'm pleased to share it with the Dôen community as a framed photo that will raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and continue to raise awareness for these horrific diseases for which we simply must find a cure.
In addition to my "For Jesse" print, I'm so honored to offer a second print, released while I was in the hospital undergoing chemo, entitled "Here and Now." The image itself is simple, but the meaning is deeply moving and one that I cling to on a daily basis following my diagnosis. My hope for anyone reading my words or seeing these works is that they're reminded that each day is a gift, no day is a guarantee, and every day deserves our undivided presence. And while you're celebrating your existence and savoring the moment, consider donating blood and/or registering to become a marrow donor. So many causes require our attention in such twisted times, but these two simple tasks can lead directly to a saved life. And lastly, thank you to my Dôen family for remaining by my side through the entirety of this hell. Hand-delivering my framed pieces to the Brentwood store was nothing short of a full-circle miracle, and I know with my whole heart that Jesse was a part of it all."