All of our Public Art Projects fall under our Common Path umbrella: moving beyond diversity to inclusion, building community from the inside out, using art as the threshold. The installations are both intimate and large-scale and are built in response to a call from the community—a call for an outlet to heal, express emotion, and to be a part of something larger.
Medicine Wheel Installation and Vigil:
  • Each year, people are invited to keep the  ”Medicine Wheel” installation and vigil. This has been a meaningful and powerful way for individuals and groups to connect to themselves and to each other. Groups and individuals have been invited to lead or participate in meditation, song, prayer, healing rituals, dance, reading poetry, etc. Many spend the full twenty four hours in the wheel, arriving equipped with sleeping bags, blankets and air mattresses. Read more about the Medicine Wheel


Dance the DreamAll of Medicine Wheel’s public art projects fall under our Common Path Program:  One of inclusion and civic engagement, using art as a threshold to invite individuals gain awareness of self, community and the human condition.  For the past three summers we have worked with the Boston Foundation – “My Summer in the City” and The City of Boston -  “Summer Fun”, to create community events in South Boston.   Last year this culminated in Beacon to the Dream at Castle Island.

Our current large-scale project, to be completed in 2016, is “Brooch”.  Brooch will build links and dissolve barriers between communities historically separated by the boundaries of geography, race and economics.  Brooch explores crossing boundaries, which keep our communities separate, bridging these communities by sharing in the experience of the creative process and engagement in cultural action.  Brooch will connect Joseph Moakley Park in South Boston, with Franklin Park in Roxbury/Dorchester, following one of Boston’s central travel routes, Columbia Road.  Columbia Road is also the unfinished segment of Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace.  Brooch will animate Columbia Road through site-specific visual art installation, movement, dance, spoken word and music.


The first phase of the Brooch project is “Dance the Dream”.  Participants in Medicine Wheel’s Summer Youth Public Art Internship program will create the visual art element of this project.  They will create 100 8’ x 24” wood frame panels covered in current newspaper articles.  The newspaper articles are a mining of current stories and events to discover the underlying threads of commonality in the human experience.  It is an exploration of civic engagement, where we learn to pay attention to the stories faced by humans all around us, recognizing the essence of these experiences that all humans share.  Handprints in the range of the colors of the human spectrum will be printed and layered on each background of newsprint, reflecting the interconnected nature of the human community.  These panels will serve as a moveable and changing backdrop.



The performance aspect of Dance the Dream will be a collaborative movement piece, led by Kairos Dance Theater and created in partnership, with Boston’s Beast Coast Krumpers and participants in Medicine Wheel’s 2014 Summer Youth Public Art Internship.  Our resident artist teachers from Kairos guide our young people through body awareness, movement and improvisational dance exercises, from which a vocabulary of movements arise.  They also spend time in dialogue with our young people reflecting on issues and problems faced by young men and women.   The movements become and expression of these reflections,


On August 28th, 2014, the handprint panels will be carried in procession from Joe Moakley Park in South Boston to the Strand Theater in Uphams Corner, Dorchester.  Along this mile and a half route “pop up” dance and movement performances will spontaneously arise at different locations.  Members of the procession carrying the panels will arrange them in moving back-drops, choreographed as part of the movement piece.  The procession will continue to its destination of the Strand Theater, where a full-length dance/movement piece created by Kairos Dance Theater, Beast Coast Krumpers and Medicine Wheel Youth will be performed.  The content of this piece will the completely informed by Medicine Wheel Youth, with movement becoming an expression of their authentic voices communicating the story of the human condition and revealing the commonalities which invite our differences to dissolve.  Sound elements and live spoken word will create an aural backdrop to the compelling offering of movement and visual art.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech will also be screened.


Over the course of Labor Day weekend, Dance the Dream will incarnate along a significant connector in South Boston, D Street.  D Street runs from the “D Street Housing Project” at its southern end to the recently developed Seaport District on the northern side.  The primarily lower income housing project contrasts starkly with the wealth of the Seaport’s hotels, restaurants and condominiums.  Interestingly, Boston’s new Convention Center, the “coming together place”, sits at the midpoint.  Processionals originating at the Sea Port District Water Front and D Street Housing Project will move along D Street coming together at The Lawn at the Boston Convention Center.  The hand print panels will be arranged as a theater in the round, encircling the movement piece.


Dance the Dream will have a strong community outreach focus.  Each week, Medicine Wheel Youth will set up information tables at the South Boston Farmers Market and outside the Strand Theater in Uphams Corner.  They will pass out flyers with information about Medicine Wheel’s Dance the Dream events.  They will also engage the public in community building activities, inviting them to write an “I am” poem, a series of prompts (“I am”, “I dream”, “Safety is”, Home is”, etc) which ask community members to share thoughts, which provides crucial data which informs how the Dance the Dream project will unfold.   We will also invite community members to make handprints, which will be added to the handprint panels.  Also short performances of the Dance the Dream movement piece, which is still a work in progress, will be offered, complete with a back-drop of handprint panels.


Medicine Wheel’s Youth Public Art Interns provide a huge driving force in the unfolding of Dance the Dream.  They come to Medicine Wheel from a wide variety of backgrounds.  Most come from lower income neighborhoods of Boston, and many are court involved.  Many have also directly experienced the trauma of street violence.  They have lost family members and loved ones to street violence, drugs and incarceration.  We often get stuck in the story of our own loss or trauma, which leads to a strong sense of “us and them”, “self and other”.  Through the creative process we are invited to reflect on the experience that lies beneath the story.  This may be grief, separation, loss, or the sense of helplessness.  On the other hand, these may be joy, happiness and love.  Recognizing fundamental human experiences, we recognize our human interconnectedness.  The sense of “us and them”, our clinging to external differences, dissolve with the recognition of commonality.  Medicine Wheel’s youth are invited to work with this recognition daily.  Dance the Dream is an expression of their recognition.


As one of our young leaders describes this project, “Dance the Dream is the unfinished part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.  Martin Luther King said he had a dream that little white and black boys and girls would join hands and be one.  Well, I had a dream that we would dance together and be one.  I envisioned everyone sharing laughter and stories, socializing, becoming friends.  I wish instead of violence we had dance, poetry battles or whatever talent you have, that’s what you use…instead of violence, when there is conflict.  Dance it out.  Through dance everyone enjoys themselves, even if it’s old school two-step.  You might not think you can dance, but if everyone around you makes you feel comfortable, then you might dance even though you think you can’t.  The dream that we would dance together and be one.”

  • Beacon to the Dream Proposal
On August 28, 2013, we will celebrate the richness of and diversity of South Boston and beyond by inviting people to join us in a lantern walk at Castle Island in South Boston.  The day marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream”  speech. We have been holding lantern making workshops all over the city and anticipate that thousands will join us in a cultural action of inclusion!   Our goal is clear, it is to fulfill the tDr King’s dream. The event, which we are calling “Beacon to the Dream,” will also be an invitation for artists from all over Boston to become part of an evening long program that will further articulate our mission. Read more about the Beacon to the Dream Proposal
  • Safety Maps

These are large-scale collage maps of each Boston neighborhood, created by our young people. The maps are taken out into the community and placed in strategic locations. Our young people then invite community members to take a cultural action and tag locations on the map where they feel safe and where they don’t. Read more about the Safety Map Project.

  • No Man’s Land:

The No Man’s Land project is a public green space located in South Boston (between South Boston High School and Dorchester Heights) that serves as a safe space for community members to have access to. It also serves as a location for the community’s young people to reclaim their lives by participating in the various public art projects that occur through MWP’s youth programming. Read more about No Man’s Land.

  • Gathering the Light/ Taking Back the Hill:

This is a weekly Wednesday night cultural happening at No Man’s Land, from July 10th through August 21st, 2013. Culminating in beacon to the Dream at Castle Island on August 28th.   This initiative provides safe and creative space for community members of South Boston to gather. Each Wednesday night will incorporate different elements such as musical performances, poetry readings, barbecues, community dialogues, art making, and more. Read more about Taking Back the Hill.

  • The Tonnes:

This project takes MWP across the sea to explore the myths, history, and energy of Derry, Northern Ireland. The project focuses on key cultural, political and artistic themes that are of immense importance in Ireland’s past and in the post peace process today. Read more about The Tonnes.

These projects are supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council, a local agency which is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, administrated by the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism, and Special Events. They are also supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


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