***Media & VIP Preview, Tuesday, November 30, 9am-5 PM

BOSTON—(November 2010) Medicine Wheel Productions, Inc. will present Medicine Wheel for its 19th year from November 30 - December 1, with a 24-hour vigil on December 1, at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama, 539 Tremont Street, South End. Medicine Wheel Medicine Wheel is an epic work of art created by Michael Dowling, Artistic Director of Medicine Wheel Productions.

The primary visual component 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. 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 1980’s and early 1990’s 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. Each year the installation is based around a different element: fire, water, earth or air. This 19th incarnation of the Medicine Wheel is a fire year and will focus on the history of the epidemic and how we honor and remember those lost to it and those affected by it.

The Medicine Wheel Vigil is true public art; the community is involved as participants and co-creators. This year we will use red ribbons, to mark the walls of the Cyclorama, symbolizing AIDS awareness and solidarity with persons deceased and living with HIV/AIDS. We will also decorate a Christmas tree on the BCA plaza with the same ribbons exploring the duality of our existence. Dozens of artists from around the city, including soprano Nancy Armstrong and cellist Sam Ou, make offerings of their art during the vigil. In 2004, Bennett Dance Company and the Vox Concort gave a joint performance which Thomas Garvey of the South End News described as “a true synthesis of the different arts...a rare fusion of sight, sound, and space through which the installation came suddenly, deeply alive.” Medicine Wheel’s 2010 vigil takes place during the twenty-four hours of Wednesday, December 1st, beginning at midnight Tuesday and concluding at midnight Wednesday An offering of song, poetry, and dance will mark every hour of the vigil, and various rituals rooted in fire. Contributors include: Reverend Daniel Smith; D.; vocalists Nancy Armstrong, Marshall Hughes; musicians Matt Samolis and Sam Ou; and Dances Ingrid Schatz and DeAnna Pellecchia.

A range of spiritual and faith traditions will be represented in Medicine Wheel’s vigil, including the Pagan community (led by Bruce Baldwin), Jewish, Christian, Native American, and others. As in years past, all are invited to leave personal mementos such as jewelry, letters, poems, photos and other items in Medicine Wheel. Objects left are placed within the Wheel’s pedestals at the conclusion of the vigil, joining those left in previous years. Medicine Wheel will be open to the public on Tuesday, November 30 from 9 am and 5 pm. The annual 24-hour vigil takes place from 11:30 pm Tuesday Nov 30th- and concluding at midnight on the 1st. The full twenty-four hours of Wednesday December 1. A media preview will take place Tuesday, November 28th from 9:00 pm to 5:00 pm. ###


• Media invited to attend Exhibit Preview on November 30, 9:00-12:00 PM.

• Numerous activities and opportunities will take place around the exhibit.

• Interviews with Michael Dowling encouraged.

• Additional background and installation images available

• A schedule and description of the plans for each hour of the vigil will be available at


The mission of Medicine Wheel Productions is to explore the human partnership with art through the ritual of involving communities in the creation of public art. All of our projects give voice to communities, to artists, and to youth through making public art. Medicine Wheel Productions brings diverse people together to create high quality sustainable projects, offering them meaningful experiences in their lives that are made manifest in the artwork left behind.



JUNE 2009

CONTACT: MICHAEL DOWLING  [Medicine Wheel Productions, 110 K St., Boston MA 02127]






Boston artist Michael Dowling, Artistic Director of Medicine Wheel Productions and its affiliate, Medicine Wheel Ireland, has been awarded a major grant from the European Union Peace III Program.  The grant will fund phase I of “The Tonnes: A Meeting of the Waters,” a cross-border peace-building public art project in the troubled boundary area between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The project will facilitate a creative dialogue among communities along the River Foyle in the Northwest border region of Ireland.

“This project will combine participatory dialogue with the creation of a unique public art piece, inviting us to a new dialogue beyond conflict; it promises to be an important part of the post-peace process”, Dowling explained.  “In Phase I we will invite communities to make handmade books and participate in writing workshops in order to create a communal archive and an anonymous epic poem about their private recollections, experiences, and prayers during and after “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland”. 

In Phase II, stones engraved with these writings from Phase I will become cairns all along the riverbank.  In Phase III the cairns and stone books will be gathered from the communities and loaded onto a floating installation of copper and reflected water which will journey from Strabane to the Atlantic. The stones will be dropped overboard at the mouth of the river in a gesture of reconciliation among diverse communities, utilizing the mythic resonances of the river and local topography in a highly innovative way.

At the same time, Brandeis University named Dowling this year’s recipient of the annual Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist in Residence Award. The award is a symbol of the University’s belief in the power of art to inspire personal and social transformation and recognizes Dowling as an acclaimed visionary artist.  Dowling will work with students and the larger Brandeis community on a project that explores the role of art and social justice.   The completed public art will be unveiled at the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts, April 28-May 3, 2010.  

In Ireland, at Brandeis and in local projects Dowling is being recognized as an artist whose vision is to unite communities through a shared creative act, and whose past and ongoing projects demonstrate his ability to achieve this goal. In 2000 Dowling founded Medicine Wheel Productions to expand the depth of participation in large scale projects that bring different communities together through art.  The organization has especially enabled troubled youth to participate as an integral part of all the projects. The organization’s mission is to enable people to access the hidden world through art—to gain awareness of themselves in their communities by participating in the creation of enduring, site-specific public arts projects in which they explore and share issues unique to their individual and collective experiences.  After a decade of realizing the vision of powerful public art locally, these awards will enable the South Boston non-profit to bring its unique type of participatory projects to regional and international stages.

Dowling came to prominence in Boston as the creator of the annual Medicine Wheel Vigil held each December 1st since 1992 at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama.  Like all of Dowling’s projects, Medicine Wheel uses the power of art to respond to issues in people’s lives.  At Medicine Wheel 2009 a luminaria of hundreds of portraits of people lost to HIV/AIDS or other causes will invite remembrance of the dead and the past that allows for grief and joy, using art to explore the partnership with grief.  People from around the world are sending in photographs that form the basis of the wood block portraits, carved and printed by youth interns at Medicine Wheel Productions.  Medicine Wheel was awarded 1st Place, Best Project in a Public Space by the Association Int’l des Critiques d’Arts.

The national and international projects do not signify a departure from local work. No Man’s Land: Our Common Path is a celebration of a land reclaimation project in South Boston scheduled for September 13th 2009.  Dowling has led the community and its youth in transforming a previously blighted piece of land behind South Boston High School into a public art park with gardens, sculpture, and a poetry path. Since 1996, hundreds of Boston youth, many of them court-involved, have worked to reclaim this land as a community resource, reclaiming their own lives in the process.  The September 13 event will celebrate the completion of the permanent landscaping at No Man’s Land, including a gate into Dorchester Heights which abutts the land, paving the way for future gardening, art making and stewardship of the land by the larger community.

“This is a moment of intense creative fruition for our public art—we have always told the youth that what they do locally has world wide implications; that when they come off the streets to landscape No Man’s Land, their choice to move from destruction to creation has the power to change the world.  With local, citiwide, regional and international projects all in the works, this vision is truly realized.”