Behind the Mask Quilt: An Artifact of Community Care

31 August 2022

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During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Brenda Reid and their partner took to walking through their Kitchener, Ontario, neighbourhoods and noticed chalk drawings made on the sidewalks and signs in windows: physical gestures expressing warmth and connection, despite the enforced distancing of the pandemic, that individuals in the community were making towards those around them. Reid started to photograph and catalogue these artifacts of care, and to think about what a more permanent artifact of care might look like in their community.

At the same time, Reid was pursuing a Master of Architecture degree at the University of Waterloo. They were exploring how textiles in general, and quilts in particular, could fit within the discourse of architecture. Outside the Western academic tradition, textiles have long been part of architecture—think of tepees, yurts, or even curtains. Quilts can be thermal, and densely quilted fabric armour is highly protective. As Reid says, “Comfort, protection, and warmth are elements of dwellings.” To that extent, quilts are architectural!

These two ideas intertwined and birthed a project called From Behind the Mask: A Community Quilt of COVID-19 Stories. The project posed the question: “Since the pandemic began in March 2020, what has changed the most in your life?” Anyone who felt connected to Waterloo Region was invited to contribute a piece shaped like a mask to a giant community quilt.

Click through the images below to see more of the quilt. 

All photos by Anne Blayney unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © Anne Blayney except as indicated.
image description: a white woman stands in front of a hanging display of fabric face masks, joined together to form a loose quilt; she is pointing at one of the masks

About Anne Blayney

Anne Blayney is a conference planner and knitter based in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. She is a former contributor and editor at

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