Morning Altars: To process grief, he makes beautiful earth art and lets nature wash it away latest news-breaking news

Day Schildkret has made more than 1000 works of art from small objects found in nature For these artists across Canada, nature is more than a muse or subject: nature is an artistic collaborator, directly engaged in the process of making art and deepening ...

Morning Altars: To process grief, he makes beautiful earth art and lets nature wash it away latest news-breaking news

Day Schildkret has made more than 1000 works of art from small objects found in nature For these artists across Canada, nature is more than a muse or subject: nature is an artistic collaborator, directly engaged in the process of making art and deepening ...

Morning Altars: To process grief, he makes beautiful earth art and lets nature wash it away latest news-breaking news
26 Kasım 2022 - 12:05

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For these artists across Canada, nature is more than a muse or subject: nature is an artistic collaborator, directly engaged in the process of making art and deepening our understanding of the natural world around us. In Natural Collaborators, we meet artists who share creative control with the wild. The wind, the trees, the grass, the plants, the sun — they're all potential partners in art-making, and what they have to express could surprise you.

As a way of processing big emotions and marking significant moments in time, artist Day Schildkret is turning to the natural world to merge art-making with ritual. He calls his art "Morning Altars" — geometric-shaped impermanent earth altars made from various objects he finds in nature, such as leaves, flowers, feathers and stones.

This practice started about a decade ago for Schildkret. He was experiencing back-to-back losses in his life: the death of his father and a massive breakup. While out for a walk with his dog, he was captivated by a cluster of amber-coloured mushrooms under a nearby eucalyptus tree. He collected them and began assembling them into what would become the first "Morning Altar."

A symetrical piece of artwork made on the ground featuring mushrooms and other natural items arranged in a star-like pattern.
Day Schildkret's first Morning Altar. (Day Schildkret)

"For the first time in six months, my grief was lighter," Schildkret describes the feeling that day. "I thought to myself, 'Something happened here that allowed me to feel connected again, that allowed me to belong, that allowed me, in some way, to take the chaos and the insanity that comes with loss and to create some sane making.'"

Schildkret has since created more than 1000 "Morning Altars," each one of them made from objects in nature. He devotes each altar to a person or a moment in his life, snaps a photo of it, and then watches the wind, rain, and other elements dismantle it.

Day Schildkret crouches down in the woods amid trees and grass to collect natural items to make art with.
Day Schildkret collecting natural items to make a Morning Altar. (CBC Arts)

"I made this piece knowing it was impermanent," Schildkret explains why he doesn't preserve his altar creations beyond photographs. "Sometimes life just comes and takes it away. And that happened this year for so many of us. The job just got taken away or a family member just got taken away. And of course there's grief and anger and sadness and confusion to that. But when we can actually relate to change — not demonize it but actually relate to it, understand life is impermanent, it's groundless — then we can find some ground in that."

A circular piece of artwork on the ground made from items such as blue feathers, blue stones, pine cones and more.
'Faded Dawn', a Morning Altar by Day Schildkret (Day Schildkret)

In this CBC Arts video, we joined Schildkret near his then home on Salt Spring Island, BC as he walks the viewers through his seven-step process of creating a "Morning Altar" and discusses the significance of this art as a form of healing through change.

"We all need to learn to be resilient in the face of change and this is an important and accessible practice to do that."

Find out more about Day Schildkret's Morning Altars and the community that's grown up around them on Instagram and on the Morning Altars website. Schildkret's book, Hello, Goodbye, talks about ways of relating to changes in life, and he has published colouring books, calendars, and more featuring his Morning Altar artwork.

The artist Day Schildkret crouching next to a cleared area on the forest floor with woven baskets or gathered natural materials nearby, creating a radially symmetrical colour piece of artwork.
Day Schildkret creating a Morning Altar. (Day Schildkret)


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