F*cking Spectacular: Interview with Day Schildkret
Internationally known for Morning Altars, which have inspired tens of thousands of people of all ages across the globe, Day Schildkret is about to go on a book tour. The Morning Altars: A 7 Step Practice to Nourish Your Spirit Through Nature, Art and Ritual (The Countryman Press, an imprint of W.W. Norton) launch will take him to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Massachusetts, Denver and Boulder, Washington DC, Florida, Boise, Portland, and elsewhere and will include workshops at the Andy Warhol Preserve in NY, Kripalu in MA, and Wanderlust's Wellspring in Palm Springs, CA.
Morning Altars has been featured in BuzzFeed, VICE, Spirituality & Health Magazine, etc. and has over 85k followers on Instagram and Facebook combined. With workshops, book readings and large-scale earth art installations worldwide, Morning Altars is bringing ephemeral art to the collective human imagination.
Kristy Lin Billuni: Tell me about the book first.
Day Schildkret: This book is a kaleidoscope of mesmerizing impermanent earth art, on the ground stories, deeply learned wisdom, a tangible practice and a way to learn again how to belong and be in relationship again to our living planet.
KLB: And for anyone who’s just discovering Morning Altars in this interview, can you talk a little more about the practice that led to the book?
DS: I make impermanent beauty and patterns with the earth. All of my art is an expression of the time and place it was born in. Depending on the seasons, the weather, the animals, what is growing, what is dying, the time of the day, the place it was made.
KLB: I’m a fan. Your images are beautiful!
DS: Thanks. Every single Morning Altar reflects the animate, ephemeral, changing earth and therefore, is also a reminder and remembering to us that we too are a part of that greater, mysterious, changing force. Yet, this is not obvious to us these days.
KLB: Great, I want to hear about this heart of your work--the altars and the book, the message you’re conveying with it.
DS: In this book, I speak to the trouble of our time — this deranged, high speed, disconnected, tech-obsessed, isolated, self-centered, objectifying, and ending and grief-illiterate culture. More and more adults and especially children are completely removed from their relationship with nature and therefore, suffer the consequences of this disconnection such as obesity, ADHD, depression, and loneliness. Even my own Morning Altars practice began during the most devastating break-up of my adult life thus far.
KLB: How so?
DS: At that time, I was totally grief-soaked and unable to do anything with my days. It was thanks to this practice of getting outside, wandering the land and seeing the enormous and almost invisible beauty right at my feet, that most people step on or over that allowed me to find my way toward myself again.
KLB: So you offer this practice as way of healing?
DS: This book offers the Morning Altars practice and ritual as way to slow down, listen, come alive and connect back into the magic of our days and our living world. Art plus earth plus creativity have the power to do this.
KLB: Tell me more about your experience building the altars.
DS: Morning Altars are inspired by my connection with all of life. I absolutely love being outside and discovering the treasure of the natural world.
KLB: Can you describe a little of that magic?
DS: A spiraling pine-cone, a watercolor-painted mushroom, a sleek black crow feather bring my entire imagination to life.
KLB: And what does that conjure for you?
DS: What I've discovered is that when I sit with the earth and create patterns with these natural material and then witness their impermanence, I can sense my own purpose and sense of belonging in a way that is meaningful, unique and completely human. I can sense how art connects me to a greater purpose of being human, which is being forgotten these days.
KLB: It sounds really powerful.
DS: Though the biggest inspiration is to see people all around the world, from Spain to Iran and Brazil to Seattle get inspired by my art and message and step outside of their homes and into the natural world and try their hands at creating.
KLB: I love how accessible it is. Anybody can do it!
DS: Yes! It's so incredibly powerful to me when someone creates a Morning Altar as a way of celebrating, grieving, honoring, understanding their lives by making beauty with the place they live. Earth art has no boundaries. It is an accessible practice for anyone, at any age, in any location, at any time of the year for absolutely NO cost.
KLB: I think that is spectacular.
DS: That is fucking spectacular! Anyone that loves nature, that loves art, that loves ritual, that remembers their wild imaginative childhood, that loves to play and experiment or longs to play and experiment, that craves to feel more connected and creative, that innately understands how beauty can feed their lives and our world -- all of these people will love this book.
KLB: The tour sounds pretty fucking spectacular too.
DS: We are hosting two HUGE and fabulous launch parties. The east coast party, October 4th is called DREAM GARDEN hosted at The Assemblage in NYC. It is a dream ritual awash in poetry, music, storytelling, with a large scale Morning Altars at the heart of the ceremony. After the dream ritual, there will be a celebration with elixirs, live music, tea service all around the altar. The west coast launch party is on October 18th in Berkeley, CA and is more of a traditional celebration with a book reading, Q&A, book signing and a Morning Altar built in the center of the party.
KLB: Speaking of building, I want to talk more about your process creating the book. How long did you work on it.
DS: The actual book took me 4 months to write while living the wilds of Southern Utah. Every day, at dawn, I would get up and sit with the muse of this book.
KLB: How did that serve you?
DS: Some days she would come visit and I would actually get some writing accomplished while other days, she didn’t show up at all.
KLB: But you kept showing up?
DS: Yes, for me, it was more about persistence and letting the spirit of this book know that I was showing up for duty everyday no matter what.
KLB: But then there was also the photography?
DS: Right, the photography occurred over 5 years. There are photos that both represent the evolution of an actual piece, from start to creation to destruction, but also the evolution of my art practice over the course of 5 years. What I absolutely love about this book is that it takes my readers on a visual and literary journey through time and space.
KLB: I cannot wait to hold the book in my hands. I feel like this is one of those books that’s going to bring a very sensual experience to its readers. Will you talk a little about how your art and your book are sensual and sexy?
DS: The earth is the SEXIEST being period, full stop. All humans have learned anything and everything about sex from our earth.
KLB: Yes! What else?
DS: The eruption of nectar from flowers, the hard phallic curve a tight pine cone, the deep dark moist earth after a rain is all about fecundity, attraction, beauty, and sex. So, when I practice creating Morning Altars, I am practicing bringing my body closer to the earth's body and learning from all those greater-than-humans on this planet who do sex and pleasure and ecstasy so well.
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