Writers also can express themselves through Review
SEPTEMBER 20, 2000
DAILY HERALD (????, Illinois)

Art shows were only the beginning for the Awakenings Project.  The organization this summer also released "The Awakenings Review," a book containing fiction, poetry, and essays by people living with mental illness.  Project director Robert Lundin is the editor of the review, as well as director of  publications for the Centre for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at the University of Chicago.

"We want the Awakenings Project to support people with mental illnesses and their families in the arts," Lundin says.

Nearly 30 people contributed to "The Awakenings Review." Much like the art shows, the review gives writers an opportunity to share their talent and their stories.  Lundin says the book covers a wide variety of topics, and about half the contributors deal directly with mental illness, the others are family members or professionals.

Lundin's goal for the project is to build on the art and literary segments by adding programs for music and drama.  He says these art shows and publications are not just for the people with the illnesses, but a way to educate the community about the creative talents of such people.

"The Awakenings Project shows the power of expression and it shows what people with mental illness can do," Lundin says.  "This gives us a way to reintegrate into the community and become members of the community.  We are putting our stuff out there for the public to digest."

When the project artists gathered for the opening of the art show in Aurora recently, they admired each other's work, hugged old friends, listened to music and showed pride in what each had created and expressed.

"I have been associated with people who create their art to sell it," Kate Petitt, an Awakenings artist, said. "I wanted to be with people who express themselves rather than just sell it."

In addition to a social group, creative outlet and advocacy group, Petitt said the Awakenings Project is good for each artist's soul.

"Art doesn't have to make sense to anyone else but the artist," she said.  "The most important question is, do these pieces show the true feelings of the artist?  This art is what I made for myself.  It's what I did for myself."

That is not to say that none of the work is for sale.  Some is marked, "Not for sale," if the artist can't bear to part with it, but the majority of it is for sale


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