Days Without Art, World AIDS Day & National Black HIV Awareness Day

Days Without Art: Greater Boston Artists Join Together to Create for Health & Racial Justice



Dell Hamilton

Medicine Wheel Extends Signature “Day Without Art” Vigil with Feb. 7 Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day & African American History Month


Medicine Wheel Productions/SPOKE presents “Days Without Art,” bringing together a range of exceptional artists from across Greater Boston to raise community consciousness of the connections between health outcomes and racial justice for Blacks and other people of color.

Building on nearly three decades working at the intersection of art and healing, Medicine Wheel expands its annual World AIDS Day “Day Without Art” by opening up a wider, multimedia, virtual conversation with the Greater Boston community. A weekly series of workshops and online performances begins with a 24-hour, virtual vigil Sunday, Feb. 7, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Online workshops, performances, and presentations will continue through February, African American History Month. Leading this innovative project is Amanda Shea, a spoken word poet, social activist, and teaching artist.

Medicine Wheel was moved to create “Days Without Art” to activate creative expression to deepen understanding of the inextricable links between health and race that the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare. Long before the coronavirus hit, Blacks/African Americans accounted for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses and people with HIV, compared to other races/ethnicities, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In 2018 Blacks/African Americans accounted for 13% of the US population but 42% of the 37,832 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas.

“The moving visual demonstration of life without art symbolizes the vibrant beauty AIDS takes away from us all,” says Michael Dowling, Medicine Wheel’s Founder & Artistic Director. “Now, though, we know one day is not enough to truly address the twin scourges of health disparities and racial injustice that our community faces. Under Amanda’s creative leadership, we are working with artists of all disciplines to heal and overcome division through the creation and experience of art.”

Every Wednesday evening through February Medicine Wheel will host online workshops with visual artists, musicians, poets, and dancers who create work that speaks to issues such as health, wellness, equity, inclusion, awareness, resilience, and/or artistic expression. The project kicks off Feb. 7, when Medicine Wheel will run a continuous, 24-hour vigil of artwork and video presentations from Black Bostonians from across cultural, health care, and other sectors. To learn more about the project and how to participate go here.


Medicine Wheel Productions activates the transcendent power of art to heal individuals and communities. For nearly three decades Medicine Wheel has supported and partnered with artists of all disciplines to put creative expression at the center of social action and change in Boston and beyond. We forge a common path of equity, civic engagement, and social justice through visual art, dance, poetry and spoken-word performance. Our award-winning public programs empower artists to triage critical community needs, from addiction and alcoholism to racial justice, HIV/AIDS, environmental stewardship and climate change. And Medicine Wheel’s work in creative youth development helps teens and young adults find their voice through art and poetry to deepen self-understanding and make a difference in their schools and communities.

Started in 1992, as a response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, our work has been at the intersection of Art and Healing for three decades.



“Constellation” 2019



password: AIDSvigil


Dear Friend,

Begun in 1992 as a response to the enormity of loss due to the AIDS pandemic, the vigil has become an enduring testimony and gathering place for us to reflect, remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones.


Although raising money is the least desirable part of producing the Medicine Wheel Vigil, it is one of the most important.    Please consider making a donation. 

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/ A Day With(Out) Art, “Medicine Wheel,”   is a 24-hour vigil with a major sculptural art installation rooted in the Celtic Medicine Wheel and the universal use of the circle as a gathering space to heal, reflect and remember.   For 28 years it has invited 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 resembling Stonehenge or one of the  standing stone circles scattered thought the Celtic world.

Rotch Park thin

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 29th  incarnation of the Medicine Wheel is a earth year and will focus on the power of art to heal, nurture, and transform.

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 November 30, doors open at 11:00 pm and for the full 24-hours of December 1.


Boston Center for the Arts

Cyclorama Building

539 Tremont Street

Boston, Ma 02116


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

Help us bring 35 SECTIONS Of the Names Project AIDS Memorial  Quilt to this year’s Wheel!  Each section costs $150.00, You can request the panel of someone you love and remember!

Please let us know if you would like to sponsor a specific panel of the quilt!

Quilt  copy


To sponsor a section of the quilt click below




 click here for more photos of past years



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