I have always been a storyteller...
A little about me...
My name is Mogli Rivers. I am a storyteller and I use photography, writing and weaving as mediums to communicate the stories I receive from the land and the seasons. I have not always seen myself in this manner and its been a long journey of self discovery to get to a place of Being an artist, or even defining myself that way. But I realize now, at the ripe age of 30, that I have always been an artist, Ive always been a storyteller. I can tenderly look back on my 13 year old self and see the wild woman in her, aching to burst forth. Obsessed with collecting bones and dried ferns and rocks, she gathered the elements to decorate her green painted room, pretending the walls were coated in moss. I take delight in her need to take photos of every waterfall, every stump, even if she had no clue what she was doing, just so that she could try to show others the Land through her eyes. I may be older, but I still collect bones, I still try to show the world the things they keep walking right over, I keep writing the stories even if there is no one to read them. Some people describe me as highly sensitive, but I prefer the term high attuned. I pick up on the nuances of Living and Being that many others do not, and I believe that this is my super power. Somehow, this gift through birth, allows me to see and connect easily with the Land and our Kin, and from this place of connection I can set art free into the world. I live most of the time out of my truck camper with my two babes and our wolf pup. Its a semi-nomadic life and the goal is never to get somewhere, but instead, to see how long we can exist in one place, getting to know the land and her people. I educate my children in this space to honor the Land, live in harmony, and think creatively. My photography is primarily of our life and our adventures, you can see its abundance on Instagram an occasionally here on the blog.
Long ago I realized, and eventually accepted, that moments were not for consumption. Beautiful scenes were not created by the Universe so that I could in turn “capture” them. Moments were like the wild things I felt most at home with, oftentimes, better left alone. I spent the majority of my artistic life as a photographer and writer, allowing scenes and the way I was able to capture them, inspire me to tell the stories of the Land as I saw it. Writing was my first love, photography was like finally being seen, and weaving became a medium of harnessing the deep emotional connection I felt to everything around me.
I get the enormous privilege of living semi-nomadically, having the ability to travel with my children to wherever Spirit leads me. We submerse ourselves in wild spaces ranging from rugged mountains, desolate deserts, rocky ocean shores and rolling waves of prairie. Because of this, all wild places feel like home. And because of this, we are forever in a cycle of arriving - settling - becoming - departing.
Often upon arrival to a new place I like to settle in for several days, sometimes a week, allowing the energies and spirit of a place to become a part of my own sense of time and understanding. I go to bed with, and wake with, the sun, forage for local plants, get to know the sounds of each landscape. At some point this begins to inspire me to pursue different textures, colors and patterns with the cloth, to string bits of words together or to walk aimlessly with my camera, waiting for the Land to tell me something. If I am lucky I find things in the soil or on the cliffs that desire to become apart of the cloth - bones, grasses, or bits of wild fiber. I also travel with an array of fiber, farmed by friends all over the continent. This is spun as needed with my favored drop spindle.
Its still a journey, but I finally feel that I am beginning to understand and accept my unique creative cycle. A fellow weaver suggested to me, “maybe your process is surrendering” and I have really clung to that word, surrender. Surrending to what the earth provides me, surrendering to whatever fibers I have in my rolling studio, to whatever colors are possible with the fibers, metals and plants I have on hand. This is a common theme on the road too, surrendering to what is instead of what it could be.
I couldn’t describe my process without also including my children, because it is my love for them and the Land that they will soon relieve me of stewarding, that guides my hand - be it written word or woven cloth. The delicate balance between creating art and cultivating life for my children is indeed, most days, delicate. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love that I get to keep them home with me, wherever we are calling home at the moment, and educate them in the Land, the Great Spirit, the beauty of Community and the energy of Reciprocity. My relationship to Land directly influences relationship to them, and by extension, directly influences my art. I gravitate towards smaller pieces because I am again and again interrupted by little humans. Though I still dream of creating large pieces, I know that it is more in flow with my current life stage to be able to start and stop often. I also have gravitated to using a drop spindle instead of my mothers wheel. I love my wheel and prefer it for about 70% of the fiber I spin, but I love the flexibility of the spindle. I will often walk around spinning, following my children or listening to their stories. Most evenings we sit around in a circle (triangle really but we always count our sweet wolf pup Naani, so a square?) sometimes cast by firelight, weaving together, waiting for dinner to be done cooking. It has become an act of harmony in our home, to weave side by side, and I am grateful to pass this ancestral knowledge onto them.
Eventually a cloth makes its way to the final stages of being woven and will be removed from the loom. I like to keep the cloth as natural as possible, letting it be wild if the fibers themselves are wild. All of my ritual cloths are soaked in hot springs, to set the fibers, and then cleansed with sage smoke before being placed away while they wait for their new homes. Some pieces are sold immediately, while some are not yet ready to enter the world and "wait" until the time is right.
WHAT IS RECIPROCITY?
Reciprocity is defined as the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit but it is so much more than simply giving to receive. It is a push and pull dynamic, a giving and a taking. A relationship of mutual dependence. In a world that has simply taken from the Land what reciprocity should look like right now, as a human, is a lot of healing, a lot of tending, a lot of humility. We have in effect been raping the world for her precious resources, and is now our responsibility to bring this dynamic back to right relationship. it is my deepest desire to live in reciprocity, create in reciprocity teach in reciprocity and grow in reciprocity. And to do this I must first unlearn humanity's ego story that the world is "for" me, and begin the long journey of remembering that I am but a tiny part of a perfect system. I am Nature. If you are also on this journey of reciprocity I highly recommend the work of Tyson Yunkaporta in his recent publication Sand Talk.
WHAT ARE RITUAL CLOTHS?
After a short while of calling my creations “altar cloths” I transitioned to calling them ritual cloths. Because my intention is not to create pieces only for the altar, if indeed you have one. My intention is to create cloths that are grounding physical representations of the Land during your daily rituals. Dont have any? I am sure that is not true. Do you regularly have a cup of coffee? Use the same spoon to stir your stew? Practice a morning massage, tongue scrapping or dry brushing? Read before bed? These ritual cloths can help hold and strengthen your daily rituals, serving as reminders of the Land that holds you, nourishes you, provides for you, inspires you and ultimately, the Land which we all will one day return to. My dream is that all my cloths find their way to homes and spaces that use them in a connective cermonious manner. That whether you are getting dressed for the day, making your tea, lighting your candle or opening your book, you take a deep, expansive breath and spend just a few moments in connection with this earth.
A NOTE ON
CUSTOM WORK + PAYMENT PLANS
I love love love to weave custom pieces for folks and work from a price based model - there are no surprises other than the piece itself. I am a firm believer that art is for anyone and everyone. Unfortunately the way most of us are compensated for our work disallows us from making such exchanges. By offering higher priced items to be sold on a payment plan I believe I can offer art to a wider array of people. If you are interested in paying for an existing or custom piece this way, please just reach out.
I could not be an artist if it were not for my adoring, loyal and enthusiastic coparent, Soren. He continually challenges me to dream bigger and create and live more authentically. Thank you and thank you for sustaining this amazing life with our amazing children. Thank you to my children, for being constant daily reminders of the 7 generations to come, for being curious, for challenging me to be wiser, kinder and calmer. Thank you to my soulmate, soul sister, the one I will grow old with. Kelsey, you are one of my dearest treasures and I am honored to call you my friend. Thank you to my dear teacher and friend Annyea, for cheering me on, answering my questions, and inspiring me with her huge heart for this planet and all her animal kin. And thank you to the women I call sister, family, auntie. It is in your embrace that I feel brave enough to leap into the unknown of the Wild Woman.