Since Fall 2020, KWAG's Public Programs Department has been fortunate to partner with Brenda Reid, a graduate student at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, on her From Behind the Mask community quilt project. Initiated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this project invited members of the Waterloo Region community to document their changing lives and perspectives through quilt blocks modeled on face masks that, when tied together, create an expansive tapestry of this extraordinary shared experience. As stated on the project's website, From Behind the Mask provides "an opportunity to come together - while apart - and make something that will remain as a memorial, acknowledge inequality, and act as a starting point for healing."
As one of multiple arts organizations in this region to lend their support to this initiative, KWAG worked with Brenda Reid to connect our creative and talented audience to her project. Beginning with December's virtual Family Sunday, we invited Brenda to present a video workshop that, with the help of material kits available for pick-up at the Gallery, invited participants to create their own quilt blocks sharing their unique perspectives on the pandemic.
A follow-up Family Sunday workshop in January, as well as a virtual visit with this year's KWAG Youth Council, soon began to yield an impressive range of community contributions reflecting the lived experiences of people of all ages. These segments of what will become the final From Behind the Mask community quilt, featuring blocks created by KWAG's community, are now on view in our Community Access Space (CAS) for outdoor viewing through our Otto Street windows. As a two-sided work, the quilt's reverse side can also be viewed by Gallery visitors - though Brenda assures us that she will rotate the quilt partway through its display to ensure both sides get their turn in the window!
This past weekend, CTV Kitchener dropped by the Gallery to speak to Brenda Reid as well as Stephen Lavigne, our Director of Public Programs, to have a closer look at our new window installation:
Be sure to take a closer look at From Behind the Mask during your next stroll through the neighbourhood. And if you're inspired to share your own COVID story, there's still time to get involved - community quilt blocks will continue to be accepted until 30 April, and there are more virtual workshops coming up that will teach you how to embellish your quilt block. The finished quilt will be unveiled later this spring in an exhibition at Homer Watson House & Gallery starting 21 May.