Riki Moss looks into the forest and imagines another world; a world filled with spirits and ambiguous life forms. For years, she has been engaged with her ever-growing, ever-shifting installment called The Paper Forest. This multi-media assemblage of curious sculptures addresses ideas of mutability and puts forth a world where things move in and out of existence. The strange, proud creatures she creates, like Horsebird, are species that did not quite make it; species made from slightly different DNA than the ones we name and study. They look like familiar creatures and plants, but at the same time, they are decidedly nothing we have ever seen before.
The individual sculptures in this installation are made with Abaca paper, a material derived from banana leaves. Moss beats the cellulose plant fiber down with a pulp-making machine that was developed in the 17th century called a Hollander beater. Once the thin, translucent paper is made, it is pressed over forms constructed of twigs, wire, plaster, and clay. When the resulting “skin” dries, it is reminiscent of goat skin vellum and reveals the haphazard structure that lies beneath. Occasionally, twigs and wire poke through the outer layer of hide, as if the creature is in the process of being formed or, conversely, is starting to fall apart. Moss is exploring her world, asking the question, “What is our time here on earth all about?”
The Paper Forest, Multi-media installation, size varies, 2013
Click here for a video on Riki Moss’s paper making process.
Moss’s sculptures have been exhibited in Nagoya, Japan, in conjunction with the UN council on Biodiversity, at the Paper Biennale in Holland, at the Images and Voices of Hope media summit, and at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT. She was a recipient of an Art Matters (NYC) grant and several Vermont Arts Council development grants. The Parade in the Paper Forest will be exhibited at the Vermont Book Festival, in Burlington, September 20-21, 2013. Riki Moss lives and works on the Champlain Islands, Vermont.