morning time. take basket and go on walk.
stay alert. watchful. forage.
hike to hill or creek bed.
be quiet and listen.
build altar: feathers, leaves, berries, bones.
pray. offer it.
watch it alter.
Day Schildkret is known internationally for Morning Altars and has inspired thousands of people of all ages from all over the world to forage, build and be awed with Earth Art. Day is igniting an international movement by sharing the art, teachings and spirit of Morning Altars as a tangible spiritual practice that renews and redeems our relationship to wonder, creativity, nature connection, generosity, and impermanence.
Schildkret has been captivated by nature and art ever since first viewed the work of Andy Goldsworthy as a child. Day’s very first altars were on the side of his driveway after every rainstorm, where his five year old self was devoted to saving the displaced worms by digging little holes and then decorating them in a mandala-like fashion. But it wasn’t until a major relationship breakup that he began to cultivate Morning Altars as a daily spiritual and beauty-making practice as a way to process his grief and heartache.
For much of his adult life, Schildkret has been traveling three distinct but converging paths of art, nature and education. On the artistic road, he worked on and off Broadway from 2001-2007with luminaries such a Steve Martin (The Underpants), Jessie Tyler Ferguson (The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged), Duncan Sheik (The Nightingale), and Kristen Bell and Nikki M. James (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer).
All the while Schildkret was pursuing nature and art installation: In 2004 and 2005, he served as the first-ever artist in residence at the largest gay spiritual retreat center on the East Coast (Easton Mountain) and has built nature-based art installations at festivals and venues such as Burning Man (2008), Dance of Liberation NYC (2006/07), Wilderness Torah (2010/11-15), Lightning in a Bottle (2013), and Symbiosis Gathering (2016), Bioneers Conference (2016), Wisdom 2.0 (2017). During the summer of 2016, he was the featured visual artist and teacher for the Wanderlust Festival, a North American yoga and music festival, that hired Day to create large scale MorningAltars’ installations and facilitate workshops for thousands of participants at five tour destinations in the US and Canada. He is booked to tour with them again in the summer of2017.
As an educator and public speaker, Schildkret began his career teaching teenagers and mentoring them to connect their spiritually with a deeper nature connection. He was the winner of the prestigious Helen Diller Award for Excellence in Education with his widely popular ‘Fire Circle’ class. For over 10 years, Schildkret gathered hundreds of students around a fire to learn about ancestry, spirituality, responsibility and impermanence. Schildkret is also the Founder of Legacy As Livelihood, a creative purpose coaching practice, and The Break Free Lab, a nationally touring workshop designed for creative and spiritually minded people who long to find their creative purpose and live a life devoted to serving their creative calling.
Schildkret understands that to be a teacher, he also needs to be a student. Over the course of his career, he has learned from nature connection expert, Jon Young (8 Shields Institute), studied and danced with Shoshonee elder Clyde Hall (the Naraya) and is currently a devoted scholar with the author, spiritual activist and public speaker Stephen Jenkinson (Die Wise - Nautilus Book Award Winner) and a recent graduate of his school (the Orphan Wisdom School) in Canada.
While Schildkret has been building earth altars his entire life, he has been building an altar every morning as a practice for the past five years inside Wildcat Canyon in Richmond, CA. Inspired to share the benefits of this daily practice, he has gathered communities all over the United States and Canada to attend his altar and mandala making workshops. His work proves there is real healing and connection happening when people create intentional earth art.
Morning Altars currently appears in The Creator’s Project at vice.com, featured in Oakland Magazine’s January/February 2017 issue, and the latest addition of Tablet Magazine. Day’s Morning Altar’s process is also the main feature of the new Darshan music video (currently with 50k views on Facebook). He is also currently planning a 15 city west coast tour sponsored by LuluLemon with the artist and musician East Forest (Ritual Mystical with MC Yogi, #1 Electronic album, iTunes Chart and #2 New Age album Billboard Chart) in Fall of 2017. His most up-to-date work can be followed on Instagram with 34k followers and Facebook with 23k followers as well as at www.morningaltars.com.
Artist Statement :
I am devoted to the pursuit of impermanent beauty and how that can become nourishment for life to continue.
As an artist, my eye is often drawn toward the fallen and my hands yearn to resurrect and redeem that which is considered valueless. This has evolved into a daily ritual of foraging local objects that the wild world has discarded to the earth; feathers, leaves, flowers, bones and how, just for a moment, the resurgence of these objects, colors, textures, shapes into a collaboration of proximity can bring forth new forms of beauty and memory.
The practice of building my art is a practice of obeying the place and time I am in. Every object I use is discovered in or around the place I build it. Every altar I create is informed and governed by forces larger than me: the sun, the wind, the rain, the traveling creatures, the season, the unexpected and unpredictable, etc. It is an honest dialogue between the human and non-human world and an ever-changing conversation with moving pieces.
As an artist what interests me most is to consider that the artwork may actually be shaped by the memory of the place, as if what I build may actually be an ancient remembering that the land itself is actualizing through me.
In today’s overly virtual landscape, I want my viewers to be enchanted by each altar's capacity to awaken their imagination, their awe, their nuanced eye and deep love and connection with the magic and mystery of our earth. I long to have my audiences linger on that ephemeral edge where death and rebirth bring forth and ancient remembering and a new impermanent beauty.