From Behind the Mask: A Community Quilt of COVID-19 Stories


From Behind the Mask community quilt installed at the Homer Watson Gallery (Photo by Erik O’Neill)

From Behind the Mask: A Community Quilt of COVID-19 Stories
Project artist, Brenda Reid

May 21 – August 29, 2021

Virtual exhibition reception: Thursday, July 22nd, 7-8 pm EST
Please register to attend

Presented by the Homer Watson House and Gallery, with generous financial support from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund and the City of Kitchener. Many individuals and community organizations participated in the realization of this project; thank you all.

Now open to the public for the first time, we welcome everyone to view the From Behind the Mask quilt. The 25’ long quilt contains 568 quilt blocks authored by members of the Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge community. Participants reflected on what had changed the most for them since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. The project, designed and led by Brenda Reid, focused on capturing the individual’s unique experience amidst the ongoing pandemic.


Photo by Erik O’Neill

Project Design
The quilt blocks are in the shape of a mask, complete with ties. These ties form the structure of the quilt and allow the blocks to be tied together. The spaces between the blocks represent the distance between people during the pandemic. The ties then represent what holds us together, our essential connections.

Brenda Reid launched the community project in October 2020 and closed submissions at the end of April 2021, running 20 public workshops and handing out over 1600 quilt block kits. The scale of this project would not have been possible without the tremendous support of the community and volunteers creating kits, sewing quilt ties and assembling the submitted quilt blocks.

The “From Behind the Mask” quilt is both art and an architectural space authored by hundreds of community members. 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 the community. It is an acknowledgement of inequality and a starting point for community healing.


Photo by Erik O’Neill

Project artist
Brenda Reid is an emerging artist and designer living in Kitchener, ON, on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron, Anishnaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. They recently graduated from the Masters of Architecture program at the University of Waterloo. There they studied care and architecture, and there the COVID-19 quilt project concept was born.


Project Artist, Brenda Reid (Photo by Erik O’Neill)

Homer Watson House and Gallery
1754 Old Mill Road,
Kitchener, Ontario
N2P 1H7
The gallery is wheelchair accessible, has street parking, and is on a public transportation route. Please visit the gallery’s website for hours, virtual reception registration and COVID-19 precautions.

From Behind the Mask
Project website, Instagram