Local artist Kirk Dunn’s Patchwork Pride Project on display at Toronto church as part of Pride Month celebrations

Kirk Dunn in his home with the hundreds of donated hand-knitted squares used to make the Patchwork Pride Project, now on display outside Morningside-High Park Presbyterian Church. Photo by Claire Dunn.

By ERIN HORROCKS-POPE

When East York actor, writer, and fibre artist Kirk Dunn had two of his rainbow yarn bombs vandalized and stolen during Pride Month last year, he knew he needed a new approach moving forward.

The result was the Patchwork Pride Project – a giant, crowd-sourced, hand-knit Pride flag made up of nearly 500 six-inch squares contributed by people from across Canada and even as far as California.

This colourful, collaborative masterpiece was installed outside Toronto’s Morningside-High Park Presbyterian Church on June 15.

Dunn’s Patchwork Pride Project was born from a deeply personal place. After one of his children came out as LGBTQ+, Dunn sought to show his support and allyship for the LGBTQ+ community.

“When my eldest child came out as gay and then trans, I wanted to show them my support,” said Dunn.

“And I also think because I’m a member of a church and I have a background in the church community, there’s a kind of theology that gets a lot of press out there that is very conservative and very hurtful. And I think it’s by far the minority of how people think and feel.”

The Patchwork Pride installation holds additional significance given the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s 2018 statement on its reconciliation efforts and repentance for harm done to the LGBTQ2S+ community. Hosting the installation at Morningside-High Park Presbyterian Church is part of this ongoing reconciliation effort.

“I want to get that message (of support and allyship) out as widely as possible in a friendly, charming, beautiful way, and this just seemed like a really fun way to do it,” said Dunn.

His initial creation of Rainbow Yarn Bombs (crocheted tree sweaters) was meant to display this solidarity. Unfortunately, these installations were repeatedly vandalized and stolen, with the original Morningside-High Park piece being recorded as a hate crime.

While the vandalism of his works saddened Dunn and the community, Dunn took it as a challenge to make more and make them bigger. So, he put out a call for six-inch knitted squares on social media, and the response was overwhelming.

Squares poured in from across the country and beyond.

Dunn, also known as ‘The Knitting Pilgrim’, has been knitting since 1988 and designing since 1995.

He apprenticed with world-renowned knitter Kaffe Fassett in England in 1998 and has since had his work featured in well-known publications and media outlets such as The Toronto Star, Vogue Knitting, Maclean’s Magazine, and CBC Radio.

Among his many accomplishments, Dunn is well known for his textile installation, Stitched Glass, a triptych of panels designed to resemble stained-glass windows that explores the commonalities and conflicts among monotheistic (believing there is only one God) religions.

Dunn originally started knitting in his twenties as a way to pass the time while on acting jobs, where there was often a lot of waiting around between auditions and performances. Now he uses his craft to foster empathetic conversations and build communities of love and comfort.

The Patchwork Pride Project installation on display this month at Morningside-High Park Presbyterian Church. Photo by Georgia Kirkos.

The Patchwork Pride Project is not just a symbol of support for the LGBTQ+ community but also a demonstration of the power of community, resilience, and creativity.

You can view the Patchwork Pride Project installation in person at Morningside-High Park Presbyterian Church, located at 4 Morningside Ave. (south of Bloor Street West just west of High Park). You can also watch the reveal of this and other projects on Dunn’s website at https://www.kirkdunn.com/


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