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OUR COMMON PATH: moving beyond diversity to inclusion, building the community from the inside out, using art as the threshold.

Our mission is to transform communities from the inside out by inviting all members to participate in the healing and transcendent power of public art. We are forging a Common Path—one of inclusion and civic engagement—using art as a threshold to help individuals gain awareness of self, community, and the human condition.

Our vision is that one day, all individuals will feel included and engaged in strengthening their community. They will recognize that art is not just a commodity. Instead, they’ll recognize art as a guiding tool that frees them to express their voice and to participate in their community.

The objectives of MWP are to:
1) Launch intimate and large-scale public art projects that respond to the needs of the community,
2) Engage young people and adults in community building activities and discussions around inclusion,
3) Offer young people year-round employment opportunities in the creative sector, and
4) Be a leader in redefining the role of art in culture.

World-renowned artist, Michael Dowling, founded Medicine Wheel Productions (MWP) as a nonprofit organization in 2000. Initially a focused painter, Dowling began shifting his work to public art installations in response to a call he felt from the community. Through this transition, he repeatedly experienced the phenomenology of art.

One such experience happened in the early years of the “Medicine Wheel” installation. Participants in the 24-hour vigil were invited to carry in stones and symbolically place them in the center of the room as a way to commemorate the AIDS epidemic and acknowledge the overarching sense of loss. Michael saw two women slowly pushing in a very large stone and walked up to them to see if they needed help. In response, one of the women said, “No! You don’t understand. Her son, my nephew passed away from AIDS. This is our burden to bear. We need to do this alone.” Their participation in the installation allowed them to grieve, but more importantly, heal and move forward.

Another experience unfolded in1996. Dowling began working with a group of 18 teens that called themselves “Southie Survivors” because they had lost so many friends to drug overdose and suicide. Under Dowling’s mentorship, they channeled their grief and anger into public artwork, creating a Celtic Cross Memorial on an abandoned lot called No Man’s Land, a site well known for its drug activity and violence. The impact of this project on the youth was profound—they were provided with a non-threatening platform to heal, express their grief, and in turn, become change agents in their neighborhood.

Today, MWP is a thriving arts organization that is transforming individuals and communities from the inside out.