THE AWAKENINGS PROJECT
Empowering and healing through art
The Awakenings Project is a grass-roots initiative whose mission is to assist artists with psychiatric illnesses in developing their craft and finding an outlet for their creative abilities through art in all forms. The Awakenings Project also works to raise public awareness and acceptance of the creative talents of people living with psychiatric disorders who work in the fields of fine art, music, literature, and drama.
The Awakenings Project has grown over the years to encompass several efforts, including Awakenings Fine Arts, The Awakenings Review, Awakenings Music, and Awakenings Drama. The Awakenings Art Show, which debuted in 1996, is now a regular activity of the Awakenings Fine Arts program, along with the operation of a working art studio. At the Awakenings studio, artists have access to a "drop-in" environment providing a supportive creative environment including work space, friendship, and solitude for those who seek it. The studio, located in Elgin, Illinois, since July 2008, is also used for other functions, such as writing workshops, play rehearsals, and receptions.
Awakenings was the winner of the "Outstanding Contribution to Recovery by a Non-Profit Organization" award from the Irwin Foundation at Celebration Recovery in 2006. Awakenings also won a "Stigma Busters" award from Ecker Center at the Elgin Country Club in 2010. You can join The Awakenings Project Group on facebook by looking up our group or page. You can join or create a fundraiser for us on crowdrise. You could donate directly on Network for Good, or help us raise money each time you search on GoodSearch. THANKS!
The Awakenings Art Show—later to become The Awakenings Project—was first conceived in 1996 when Robert Lundin, then member of the board of directors of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Illinois (NAMI-IL), became involved with the planning committee for NAMI-IL's annual convention. Intrigued and inspired by the work of Kay Redfield Jamison (Touched with Fire: Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, 1993), he thought an art show might give NAMI an activity by which it could serve its consumer constituency through advocacy and involvement. Lundin thought The Awakenings Art Show might uncover talented artists who were otherwise neglected by the art world and inspire some consumers to take their rightful place in society as productive creators, helping to raise the ambitions and self worth of consumer artists, as well as providing education to people who viewed the show.
Lundin and NAMI-IL's staff, who shared his enthusiasm about the idea, set about organizing the show, and he contacted friends and colleagues whom he thought might have mental illnesses to bring them on board. He contacted Trish Evers, a professional artist with a studio only a few doors down from where he lived at the time. He then met Irene O'Neill who worked at Lucent Technologies. She told him she had bi-polar disorder and co-owned an art gallery. He asked her to be his co-director, which she enthusiastically still is. With skilled help from the artistic community, including Ben Beyerlein, Anton Witek, William Alexander, Chet Witek, O'Neill, and Evers, the show went on.
The Awakenings Art Show debuted at the 1997 annual convention of NAMI-IL in Lisle, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. The first show attracted over forty exhibitors. That number increased to seventy by 1998. Awakenings has since exhibited at seven NAMI-IL Conferences and one NAMI-National Conference. NAMI-IL recently invited us to exhibit at the 2009 NAMI-IL Conference, which was in the Lisle/Naperville Hilton on October 16 - 18, 2009.
In 1998, a Chicago gallery hosting The Awakenings Art Show misprinted the Art Show's name as "The Awakenings Project" in its promotional literature, and the name stuck.
The Awakenings Project is a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity.
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