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Days Without Art: National Black HIV Awareness Day

SPOKE Renews its Mission to Activate Art to Heal with two online events


Days Without Art: National Black HIV Awareness Day

Feb. 7th 6-8 pm


Program of Art & Dialogue with panelists 

Aaron Stone, Michael J. Bobbitt, Adrianna Boulin, Charles Murrell III

Zola Powell, Amanda Shea & Letta Neely


The Scene/Seen: New Work by L’Merchie Frazier

Feb. 9th, 6:30 pm

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Register for Feb 7, WeSpoke Gallery Talk

SPOKE concludes its Days Without Art project with a program of art and dialogue marking National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7.

The program’s highlight is a WeSPOKE Gallery Talk featuring exceptional artists, cultural and health leaders to discuss the role of art in healing and consciousness as we experience multiple pandemics: Covid-19, AIDS/HIV, racism, addiction, and violence, particularly as they are experienced in Greater Boston’s Black community. The panel will take place against the backdrop of work by L’Merchie Frazier in the SPOKE Gallery and Black History Month.

“As we did last year, we will mark Feb. 7 as a bookend to our World AIDS Day installation and vigil to expand the conversation at the intersection of art, health, and social justice,” says Greg Liakos, SPOKE Executive Director. “We’re grateful to the panelists for offering their insights, creativity, and expertise to this dialogue.”

Panelists include poet and former SPOKE artist-in-residence Amanda Shea, performer and former Miss Gay Boston Zola Powell, singer and arts educator Aaron Stone, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director Michael J. Bobbitt, and Adrianna Boulin, poet and Director of Community Impact and Engagement for Fenway Health. Learn more about the panelists here.

“The impact of COVID-19 has revealed longstanding health disparities and inequities that affect Black or African American people, and some of these disparities mirror those we see with HIV, says the Center for Disease Control. “Differences in health care access, educational opportunities, social support, and financial resources have directly and indirectly influenced overall health outcomes for far too many.”

SPOKE shares Mass Cultural Council’s vision of “a Commonwealth where culture is understood as an essential investment in health, both for individuals and for the community as a whole.” The Feb. 7 program continues our 30-year history of bringing together diverse communities through cooperative public art projects to realize that vision.

“As we did last year we mark Feb. 7 as a bookend to our World AIDS Day installation and vigil to expand this conversation at the intersection of art, health, and social justice,” says Greg Liakos, SPOKE Executive Director. “We’re grateful to the panelists for offering their insights, creativity, and expertise to this dialogue.”

About SPOKE & Days Without Art

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. Days Without Art will be a series of cultural events and actions connecting World AIDS Day, Dec 1st with National Black HIV Awareness Day, Feb 7th. 

Register for Feb 9

The Scene/Seen

The SPOKE Gallery is delighted to kick off 2022 with The Scene/Seen, an exhibition of recent quilt work by renowned Boston artist L’Merchie Frazier.

The quilts present four scenes from the artist’s Barricades series: The Mathematics of Racism: Living in the Calculus, Who is Barred Today, People Before Highways, and How Many More? Each urges viewers to consider space through the lens of social conflict and resolution across varied times and places. “The journey here is localized geographically in its particular presence,” says Frazier, “yet global in universal location of human activity.”

The Scene/Seen opens to the public next Monday, Jan. 31 at SPOKE Gallery, 840 Summer St. in S. Boston, MA 02127. The artist will discuss the work with exhibition curator Kathleen Bitetti as part of a virtual opening Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 6:30 pm. Register for this event online here. The exhibition runs through March. 18. (Note new dates.)

“L’Merchie Frazier’s career is a testament to the power of art to expand our vision of humanity and its potential,” says Greg Liakos, SPOKE Executive Director. “The Scene/Seen is a resonant, timely, and thought-provoking exhibition.”

L’Merchie Frazier (pictured below) is a Boston-based multimedia artist, educator, and consultant. A recipient of the Boston Foundation’s 2021 Brother Thomas Fellowship, she is also a Boston artist-in-residence with the Office of Recovery Services/Office of Women’s Advancement, and Director of Education and Interpretation for the Museum of African American History, creating programs that expand the American historical narrative. She is represented in numerous private collections and the permanent collection of the University of Vermont, the American Museum of Art and Design, New York, and the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC. Exhibition sites include the Museum of Afro-American History Boston; the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston; New England Quilt Museum; and the permanent collection of the White House. She is also a member of Women of Color Quilters Network (WCQN) a national African American Quilters Guild. She was also an advisor to Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories, at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Across this work is the thread of the power of individual and collective memory to know and to heal. As Forbes stated in a review of her work last year, “Whether L’Merchie Frazier is creating poetry, performance, holographs or quilts, she is doing it to save herself — and all of us — from our amnesia.”

The artist has worked with SPOKE (formerly Medicine Wheel) over several years, most recently on a documentary film “Witness,” and has exhibited her work in the SPOKE Gallery. Last spring SPOKE honored her with its Annual Artist/Activist Award.

SPOKE Gallery is open by appointment. (To address rising COVID-19 cases and encourage vaccination, visitors are now required by the City of Boston to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter. People working in those locations will also be required to have received their vaccines.) Please email to schedule a visit.



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