From Behind the Mask: A Quilt of Pandemic Experiences

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As fear and uncertainty continue to linger in our communities, we can use storytelling as a means of expressing our humanity and connecting with one another while distance separates us. 

‘From Behind The Mask’ is a free community art project created by local UW architecture student, Brenda Reid. The initiative was launched in October 2020 and is a part of Reid’s graduate thesis, which aims to create space for pain, resilience, and care within the community. 

The project is a community quilt, fashioned out of fabric blocks contributed by anyone living, working, or studying in Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo – or by anyone displaced from the area due to the pandemic. Ultimately, Reid wants to keep the project open to anyone whose lives are rooted in these cities. ‘From Behind the Mask’ requests that contributors use their block to illustrate, in any way, how COVID-19 has impacted their lives. 

This pandemic has affected, and continues to affect, members of our community in dramatically different ways. COVID-19 has stolen lives, jobs, homes, and hospital beds — all while our healthcare workers fight the battle on the frontlines. Our experiences of the pandemic are wildly different, and one of Reid’s goals in creating this project is to highlight these inequalities and create a starting point for healing. 

Members of the community who are interested in contributing to the quilt, can pick up a quilt block kit locally, or make a block from home, using easy-to-follow instructions. These instructions, as well as a list of locations offering pick-up and drop-off of quilt kits, are available on the project’s website.

The goal is for the final quilt to travel between Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo over the course of summer 2021, so it can be displayed to the public. The locations in which the final quilt will be displayed will be free to visit, accessible, and on public transit routes. 

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