Medicine Wheel 2013


photo credit melissa Weiss Ostrow

stone Cyclorama, Boston Center for the Arts

Sunday, December 1st, 2013, 24-hour vigil

Medicine Wheel is an epic work of art created by Michael Dowling, Artistic Director of Medicine Wheel Productions. Produced annually since 1992 in conjunction with World AIDS Day (also known as A Day Without Art), “Medicine Wheel,” a 24-hour vigil with a major sculptural art installation, brings people from every walk of life and every social class together to commemorate the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic, or any loss, in their own communities and worldwide. The primary visual component is the wheel itself: thirty-six pedestals and portable shrines arranged in a circle.

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 22st incarnation of the Medicine Wheel is an airyear and will focus on the power of art to heal, nurture, and transform.

The Medicine Wheel Vigil is true public art; the community is involved as participants and co-creators. We invite artists of all disciplines to make prayerful artistic offerings during the vigil. This year’s vigil is going to be a wonderful, magical event. The installation itself will be a bit simpler this year, drawing from components of previous years, but no less awe-inspiring. The element this year is earth. There will be no schedule of offerings this year. You are welcome to enter into the space, and respond to it creatively. However, please keep in mind that your offering is a contribution to the vigil, and not a performance per se. Additionally, there will be no tech support provided by Medicine Wheel to performers this year. Please avoid the need for amplification, illumination etc if at all possible. If you absolutely need something of that nature, you will have to bring your own gear with you.

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 Saturday November 30, noon to 5 p.m., doors reopen at 10:oo pm and for the full 24-hours on Sunday, December 1.

For more information about this year’s installation, please contact Michael Dowling at or 617.268.6700 x11.


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