Shea Justice Gallery Talk

Title: Shea Justice Gallery Talk
Date: 2021-09-29

On Wednesday, September 29th celebrated Boston artist Shea Justice will sit down with SPOKE Gallery Curator Kathleen Bitetti to discuss Scrolls of Justice, his timely and provocative new work currently on view here.

Justice will discuss his scrolls, many of which are hundreds of feet long, that present the artist’s singular creative response to war, politics, current affairs, pop culture, and social and racial justice. The hybrid Zoom/in-person talk begins at 6 pm.

Register for the Gallery reception & talk here:


Call to Create a panel for Touched: 30th Installation of Days Without Art 2021

Our work at SPOKE began 30 years ago to create a place where people gather to reflect and remember those lost to the AIDS Pandemic. This mission remains just as urgent today as we face multiple pandemics of Covid-19, racism, and addiction, alongside the continuing scourge of HIV/AIDS, particularly among vulnerable populations.

This year for our Days Without Art/World AIDS Day installation, we invite people to create a fabric sampler, 16″ x 16″ to remember, reconnect and honor someone lost to one or more of these concurrent pandemics; someone who has Touched your life physically, spiritually, or emotionally. You can find out more about this year’s event at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama here. 

Touched quilt


You don’t have to be an artist or know how to sew, knit, crochet etc., to create a section for Touched. You can use paint, fine needlework, iron-on transfers, markers, crochet, knitting, or even spray paint on a sheet. You may choose to create a panel privately as a personal memorial or you may choose to follow the traditions of old-fashioned quilting bees by including friends, family, and co-workers. That choice, like virtually everything else involved in making a panel, is completely up to you.

Here are a few easy steps of how to create a panel for “Touched: How We are Touched In Times of Pandemic“  

1. Design the panel - Designs can be whatever you like, honoring someone that you’ve lost to HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, or anybody who has Touched you in these difficult times. 

2. Choose your materials

It is best to sew things to the panel. A medium-weight, non-stretch fabric such as a cotton duck or poplin works best.

Your design should be square, but the finished, hemmed panel must be 16” by 16” – no more and no less! When you cut your original piece of fabric, leave an extra 1-2 inches on each side for a hem. (If you can’t hem it yourself, no worries, we’ll do it for you.)

3. Create the panel

In constructing your panel you might want to use some of the following techniques:

  • Applique: Sew fabric, letters and small mementos onto the background fabric. Do not rely on glue – it won’t last.
  • Paint: Brush on textile paint or color-fast dye, or use an indelible ink pen.
  • Stencils: Trace your design onto the fabric with a pencil, lift the stencil, then use a brush to apply textile paint or indelible markers.
  • Collage: Make sure that whatever materials you add to the panel won’t tear the fabric (avoid glass and sequins for this reason), and be sure to avoid very bulky objects.
  • Photos: The best way to include photos or letters is to photocopy them onto iron-on transfers, iron them onto 100% cotton fabric and sew that fabric to the panel.

Finished samplers can be sent to:

840 Summer Street #103
Boston, MA 02127

4. Attend one of our “Quilting Bees” quilting workshops!

If you’re not comfortable working on your own, or you don’t have the proper materials, that’s okay! Come visit our studio space at 840 Summer Street in South Boston, and we’ll be happy to help you create a square for Touched.

Join us for open studio “Quilting Bees”, Beginning Thursday, September 23rd - Friday, November  19th

Tuesdays                    6-:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Thursdays                   10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Fridays                        10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Register for a quilting open studio here. 

Here are some examples of quilt squares to inspire your own designs. We’re so excited to have you participate in our annual Days Without Art installation this year!

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YouthSpeak Summer Program Adapted to Continue During the Academic Year

Screen Shot 2021-09-17 at 2.27.40 PMThis summer SPOKE launched YouthSpeak, a new initiative that opens digital space for young people in Boston public housing to share their stories about their lives and their communities and earn money in the process.

With funding from the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), SPOKE partnered with a talented team of creative entrepreneurs from TrendStream Entertainment who are working with youth in neighborhoods across Boston to create poignant personal narratives through poetry and spoken word performance, music, dance, and video. Young people earn $13.50 an hour for their work.

“I’ve been so impressed and inspired by the work of the young people we’ve had the privilege of working alongside,” says Dakohai Matityahu, a TrendStream spoken word artist who’s also serving as YouthSpeak Project Manager. “Medicine Wheel (SPOKE’s predecessor) helped me find my creative voice as a teen. Now in my role as a teacher I can help create spaces where a new generation is seen, heard, and valued for the gifts they bring.”

SPOKE is still actively recruiting youth living in public housing to enroll in YouthSpeak, now a fall afterschool program. To learn more or register go here.

What began as a youth employment opportunity for 2021 has been transformed into an after-school program for the 2021-2022 school year, with programming focused on sharing the voices of young people living in public housing in Boston. Over the course of seven weeks under the guidance of ten skilled artists, youth aged 15 to 18 use digital storytelling to portray their stories. YouthSpeak was founded based on SPOKE’s long history of activating art and story to help young people discover their authentic voice and amplify it in their communities.

YouthSpeak’s curriculum includes 10-15 classroom hours and 5 fieldwork hours, with 50-100 students under the direction of our cohort of creatives working in a range of artistic disciplines. The youth are presented with an array of digital storytelling options, encompassing video, photo essays, spoken word, music, or a hybrid/multimedia. Their individual experiences with digital media will also inform their work, employing it in conjunction with newly learned skills to create art that reflects themselves, their families, and their communities. All classes are held virtually in accordance with protocols from the CDC and the City of Boston.

This program was made possible thanks to the City of Boston and the Boston Housing Authority’s generous support, also as a part of SPOKE’s longer-term partnership with the BHA. This important partnership is manifested in the project New Art in Old Colony, a creative placemaking initiative taking place alongside the redevelopment of South Boston’s Old Colony neighborhood led by Beacon Communities Inc. In April 2021, SPOKE announced this project with the intention to activate Old Colony with community-driven public art over the next two years, utilizing help from two exceptional Latinx artists Allison Maria Rodriguez and Franklin Marval.