Arts and Culture
Food and Wine
People and Places
Science and Nature
Travel and Lodging
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
Medicine Wheel
Medicine Wheel

A Day Without Art, Boston Massachusetts

By Lindsay Jensen | December 16, 2011

“The frailty of the human condition—and the cruelty of untimely loss of life—is one of art’s oldest and most enduring themes. Every year on December 1, we’ve reflected on this theme for Day Without Art, an international day of observance of the impact of the AIDS pandemic on cultural life.” ~ Eric Bruehl, J. Paul Getty Museum.

Shell Image

Medicine Wheel Productions, Inc presented Medicine Wheel for its twentieth year on Thursday, December 1, 2011, at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama Building.

Michael Dowling developed Medicine Wheel to be a part of A Day Without Art, the visual arts community’s annual response to the AIDS crisis that flowered in the late eighties and early nineties in New York City and other artistic centers.

While most activities associated with A Day Without Art no longer take place, Medicine Wheel has grown in importance as Boston’s largest annual observation of World AIDS Day.

Medicine Wheel is an epic work of art, the primary visual component of which is the wheel itself: thirty-six pedestals and portable shrines arranged in a circle.   Designed in response to the dramatic circular space of the Cyclorama, Medicine Wheel commands this grand interior with understated power.

Students from the Art Institute of Boston speaking with Michael Dowling (center), the creator of Medicine Wheel

Each year the installation is based around a different element: fire, water, earth or air.

The twentieth incarnation of the Medicine Wheel was a water year, focusing on the power of art to heal, nurture, and transform.

The Medicine Wheel Vigil is true public art, involving the community as participants and co-creators.

This year, youth from around the city, created a cultural flash mob, which included performances of dance, spoken word, and much more.

Participating organizations included Raw Art Works, Hyde Square Task Force, Books of Hope, The Theater Offensive: True Colors, Teen Center at St. Peter’s, Teen Empowerment, and Artovation.

Sam Ou performs on the Cello

Additionally, an offering of song, poetry, and dance marked every hour of the vigil, and various rituals rooted in water.

Contributing artists included: Cellist Sam Ou, the Boston Conservatory String Quartet, Until Tomorrow Productions, The Glass Ensemble, Brandeis University Dance Troupe, dancers Deanna Pellechia and Ingrid Schatz, and many more.

A range of spiritual and faith traditions were also represented in this year’s Medicine Wheel vigil, including the Pagan community (led by Bruce Baldwin), Jewish, Christian, Native American, and others.

For further information, or to become involved in 2012, contact Medicine Wheel Productions.


Boston Center for the Arts

539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

(617) 426-5000


Medicine Wheel Productions

110 K Street, South Boston, MA 02127

(617) 268-6700


Share |
ONE is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.