A Community Quilt of COVID-19 Stories
Project initiated and led by Brenda Reid
From Behind the Mask is a large-scale community artwork focussing on our collective – yet individual – experiences of the coronavirus pandemic. Launched in October 2020, everyone who self-identified as a member of the Waterloo Region Tri-City community was invited to submit a quilt block reflecting on the prompt:
“From when the pandemic started, in March 2020, until now, what has changed the most in your life?”
Quilt blocks were designed to be the shape and size of facemasks commonly worn during the coronavirus pandemic. Images were to decorate the front of each block and accompanying text could be added to the back panel. Each quilt block would be tied together to form one large quilt. Quilt block kits were made available for free at a number of local businesses and through the mail. Once returned, the quilt blocks were sewn up by volunteers. The project concluded at the end of April 2021 and was installed in its full length at the Homer Watson House and Gallery before travelling to other locations.
The quilt is both art and architectural space authored by hundreds of people in the Tri-City community. It provides material and space for reflection, grieving, hope and togetherness. Each block represents a unique voice, perspective and experience of life during this time. When the quilt blocks are tied together, we are making space together for each other. The hanging of the quilt makes space for stories of pain, resilience and care here in our community. It is an acknowledgement of inequality and a starting point for community healing.
Thank you to the City of Kitchener and the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund for their generous financial support of this project.
Photos by Erik O’Neill