Chelsea’s Community Quilt is a Powerful Symbol of Community


By Matt Jensen, STN Writer

A new work of art has been unveiled and is on display in the Chelsea District Library honoring one of Chelsea’s outstanding citizens. The work is a reminder of the power of partnership.

In the Summer of 2021, Lori Coryell and Charlotte Wynche were celebrating the life of their dear friend Trinh Pifer who had passed away earlier in the year. They happened to be seated next to one another and found they collectively still felt Trinh’s guidance toward community and collaboration. “We realized that Trinh’s spirit was still inspiring us in that room!” said Lori.

Trinh was well known as someone who could recruit those around her to work together and create amazing things. And in their conversation, Lori, the director of the Chelsea District Library, and Charlotte, a member of the C.A.A.D.Y. Corner Quilters, decided they needed to create something unique to honor Trinh and her commitment to the Chelsea Community.

And so, the Chelsea Community Quilt project had its start!

"Trinh was an incredibly creative person, always full of ideas and so effective in bringing people together to make things. If she had an idea and you were standing nearby, you were involved!" Charlotte said.

Not long after, Lori and Charlotte enlisted the help of several Library staff members, myself (Matt Jensen) included. We set out to make a large Community Quilt which we hoped would feature at least 90 squares from different people. On the 19th of November, we unveiled a quilt with 106 squares from folks all over the Library District.

The project officially kicked off in December of 2021 with three in-person workshops where volunteers from the C.A.A.D.Y. Corner Quilters came to the Library to teach anyone interested in sewing how to quilt.

“The first set of workshops was just a phenomenal experience. The excitement in the room was just beyond words,” said Charlotte Wynche.

There were three more workshops planned in January, but the project suffered a minor setback when COVID protocols required that the Library cancel all in-person programs that month.

However, over the course of the following 4 months, the Library continued to host small workshops and tutorials for folks who wanted to learn to sew and quilt. Once a deadline for submission was set at the end of May, there was one final push to gather squares. The end submissions exceeded all the hopes the team had for the quilt.

The finished product measures 9.5ft wide by 10.5ft long and hangs "on point" in the stairway as a permanent installation at the Chelsea District Library. There are 106 unique squares in total that Library patrons have made, each square from a different participant. The quilt itself is 98 squares and the two banners on the sides include the extra 8 squares submitted.

So next time you’re in or near the Library, take a moment to view collaborative artwork fittingly honoring Trinh Pifer, who was known for her ability to bring the community together.

Clif and Kerry Ballard and Matt Jensen work to make sure the quilt and banners are level.
Clif and Kerry Ballard hang the quilt on the staircase of the Chelsea District Library
The Quilt is comprised of 98 squares from unique participants and the banners hanging alongside it contain the extra 8 squares.
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