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Community quilt sewn by people who are stitched together

The Community Fabric quilt will be on display at the Guelph Civic Museum from Aug. 24 to March 2

Community Fabric did what it set out to do – create a community, as a 10-week community quilt project came to an end yesterday evening.

Community Fabric is a project put on by Art Not Shame, a local multidisciplinary arts organization. The community quilt was an idea to engage Guelphites to work together to create a piece that will hang in Art Not Shame’s new community arts hub at 119 Wyndham St. It’s expected opening is Sept. 21.

Before the final assembly of the quilt there was some preliminary stitching done by part of the group. “And just seeing all of the pieces come together and the size of it and imagining it on our wall is just so exciting. And so touching,” said Alisa McRonald, communications lead for Art Not Shame.

Local artists helped facilitate the project by teaching participants embroidery, hand-sewing and quilting. The project travelled to different communities each week so people from around Guelph could be a part of making the quilt. This was made possible through its collaboration with the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition and the Guelph Civic Museum.

“We wanted to engage with community and make something that speaks to how folks in Guelph feel about community," said McRonald.

20240508communityquiltsb9Participants registered for free and didn’t need any prior knowledge on how to quilt to join. About 35 people worked on the quilt.

“So the most interesting thing has been just people coming back week to week making friends,” said McRonald.

Jessica Duggan is new to Guelph and thought joining the quilt project would be a good way for her to make new friends. She met Rachel Schenk Martin through the project and instantly hit it off.

Duggan has experience with sewing and created a square of fabric to look like her dog, Tulip, for the quilt. 

“She's a gorgeous little golden retriever. My pride and joy. And I figured if I was going to be doing something that gets put up in the museum and something I don't know like intro-ing me into Guelph officially, it was going to be my pride and joy,” she said.

Part of what Schenk Martin has been missing since the pandemic is a sense of community, which is why they joined the project.

They created an image of a quilt to include within the quilt. When they were thinking of what to create they wanted to choose something that inspired them.
“And so it's kind of this symbol of like, for me, what I associate right now with Guelph and community is this quilt,” they said.20240508communityquiltsb17

There is already a social aspect built into quilting, said McRonald.

“I think it's absolutely wicked. I think it's such an awesome project for people to be able to come together,” said Duggan.

People don’t want the quilt making to end. McRonald wishes it was longer 10 weeks since the group has built up the momentum to keep going.

The quilt is about four feet tall and six feet wide. Embroidered squares fill up the quilt with white squares between them so the art stands out.

Emmi Boyle, one of the art facilitators of Community Fabric, had never made a quilt before but always wanted to. “I was really excited about this, because it's way less intimidating. I find quilting can be pretty intimidating. But doing it with a big community made it seem like so much easier,” she said.

The quilt will be on display at the Guelph Civic Museum as part of an exhibition from Aug. 24 to March 2.


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Santana Bellantoni

About the Author: Santana Bellantoni

Santana Bellantoni was born and raised in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. As a general assignment reporter for Guelph Today she is looking to discover the communities, citizens and quirks that make Guelph a vibrant city.
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