In January 2020, mere weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic took over the entire world, I presented the first iteration of Mystic Toolkit at Stewart Hall Art Gallery in Pointe-Claire (Quebec). This was an exhibition informed by the spiritual renaissance of the late 2010s and meant to shed light on the potential that lies therein to influence the practice of working artists.
Two years later, in a radically altered global context that has left no one untested or unshaken, Mystic Toolkit picks up the conversation again. In this new context, it is perhaps not surprising that alternative spiritual practices have achieved an accrued prominence. Bringing together the work of seven artists working across a variety of mediums ranging from sculpture, painting, photography, and performance, Mystic Toolkit is a quiet invitation to celebrate daily rituals of coping, healing, and grieving that have become indispensable in recent times. Despite their own idiosyncratic visual vocabulary and practice, the artists included in this exhibition all share the recognition for the mystical forces that affect our daily lives and pay tribute to the daily rituals and repeated gestures that keep us wholesome.
The exhibition conceptualizes the home as a sanctuary, a place of recollection and refuge. Our home is at once a haven of comfort and self-care, but during lockdown it has also held us captive. As our lives are increasingly scattered into both physical and virtual spaces, some of the artists in the exhibition have reached out to find a spiritual space online. Social media has allowed a sort of “being together” despite strict social distancing mandates. Other artists refer to tarot games as a means of making sense of the world, while others turn to charms and trinkets as tokens of hope. Some have imbued their work with a punctual and regular practice as a way of making order at a time of chaos. Despite the variety of approaches, all of the artists participating in Mystic Toolkit attempt to navigate through what is unquestionably one of the most disruptive crises in modern history via a genuine recognition of the mysterious forces that orchestrate the world.
–Anaïs Castro, Guest Curator