I heard about The Awakenings Project right after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was in school for art in Bloomington, IL.
I heard there was an artists' shared studio space for people with mental illness in Glen Ellyn, IL near where I lived. I was dealing with a lot at the time and did not become involved with Awakenings until years later. Immediately I felt a sense of community and compassion between the members. No one judged, they just appreciated and encouraged one another. Many years later I am happy to say we still have community, compassion, appreciation for one another, and continued encouragement and support. The Awakenings Project takes mental illness and demonstrates the artistic beauty, vulnerability, and strength that come from within those living with it. I am very thankful to be part of such a treasured organization.
AP has such an important mission to help those with psychiatric illnesses through making art!!
Founder and ED Irene O'Neill is one of my favorites and AWESOME!!
GREAT org, GREAT team, & the CLOZTALK team is honored to call AP our partner!!
>> Jonny Imerman, co-founder
The Awakenings Project not only gives voice to artists, musicians and writers living with mental illness, it brings awareness, understanding, appreciation and acceptance to the world at large. The creativity is astounding, the volunteers tireless, the shared benefit immeasurable. We all are enriched.
Awakenings has been a journey of awakening the artistic possibilities for my son. They have provided space, supplies, support and opportunities that he would not have had otherwise. It's an encouraging community that we are delighted to support.
We have followed the Awakenings Project through our son for eight years now. The project continues to grow, flourish, and offer opportunities for shows and sales to artists who might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. The artists offer paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, furniture, pottery --an amazing breadth of expression.
This is a beautiful group of people sharing their creativity and connections with each other and the world!
In 2007, while I was reeling under a diagnosis of Bi-polar disorder and while painting Oil on Canvas to express my inner landscape; I was introduced to the Awakenings Project by my Psychotherapist soon after hospitalization.
The intention was to meet creative individuals whose lives were similarly disrupted by mental illness or due to their inability to cope with stress. Initially I was afraid to identify myself with a group that could further label me, and distance me from my goal of getting back to "normal" ordinary life.
My apprehension ended when I first met Irene O'Neil and the group. Irene's calm spirit immediately put me at rest and I lay my defenses down. I had carried some of my paintings into the meeting room hoping I could resonate with someone.
By the end of that evening, I felt reassured that I was not isolated on my island of confusion and grief. Others had navigated the waters that I now tread and were managing whatever their conditions in a way that I found commendable.
Awakening Project helped exhibit my work at the local library which then encouraged me to come out of my isolating shell and show my work at different galleries outside. This helped me to relate my problems with family members and friends over time.
Since then, I have moved onward in my journey to recovery. I no longer have a goal to reach the promised land called "normal." I have learned to work with my unique set of sensibilities and strengths.
Awakenings Project with its wonderful members, hold my highest regard and esteem.
I remain grateful. Beena
I may seem biased, as President of the Board of Awakenings, and a member since the get-go, but it's not like I came up with the idea for this project. The credit for that rightly goes to our founder, Robert Lundin. He had the vision for an art show, and it was originally supposed to be just a one-weekend show at a NAMI-IL conference. But I'd like to take some credit for helping to get it off the ground, and for keeping it going for what is now approximately 18 years. There are several other members who have been with us since the beginning also, such as Ben Beyerlein, Anton Witek, Sandy Mazurek, and three other co-founders who have since passed away, Kurt Taecker, Trish Evers, and William Alexander. It's that kind of loyalty that tells me we must be doing something right. With the advent of the internet, we developed our website, and the second version, 2.0, of our website was designed by Wendy Liles, a former board member, who donated her time to do that for us. When facebook was spreading like wildfire, we started The Awakenings Project Group, and later Awakenings Project Page, which have helped us expand far beyond the borders of Illinois, to find like-minded artists from all across the country and even around the world. Robert Lundin also had the vision to see us expanding into the Literary Arts, Music, and Drama. This has been an empowering experience for all of us, in every capacity, a learning, loving, and powerful feeling of belonging and significance. I want to thank everyone who has reviewed us and everyone who has participated in any way. I hope we can keep it going together, with all your help. Thank you.
I have worked with The Awakening Project in the past and they obviously touch the souls of some very unique and talented artist.
I grew up understanding the Arts are most essential the existence of humanity. As I have seen the power of the Arts working as therapy for my own bouts of mental illness, I realized the powerful impact it can have on others as well. The Awakenings Project created an important outlet and opportunity for people who need a safe place to express themselves and receive therapy through Art.
When I 1st joined FB, I was looking for groups that met certain requirements. I wanted to be w/ like minded people who are achieving their goals in a trusting comfortable atmosphere. I stumbled upon "The Awakenings Project" w/Irene & Co. And let me tell you they are so much more than that...making music CD's & selling them, going to various art shows...selling paintings, poetry workshops & readings...you name it & they are there. What an inspiration The Awakenings Project has been for me. Although I live a few states away, it feels like I am right at home w/my friends from Awakenings. Bravo to the group for all you do.
Rediscovering Awakenings after some years has allowed me to participate in ways I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. It is truly a great organization that allows participants to be themselves. I feel encouraged to try new things and feel that I am among friends. I only wish I'd been around since the beginning. It is amazing!
This is a wonderful organization that empowers people with mental illness to reach their full potential through the arts. They publish an outstanding literary journal, The Awakenings Review, have an art studio, produce plays and have poetry and music nights.
The Awakenings Project is a great organization run by individuals with a mental illness. The organization uses the creative arts to help people understand their illness and learn about recovery. The organization encourages artists of all kinds to reach their potential. The role models of the artists help people in their journey to recovery as well as erase the stigma associated with mental illness.
The Awakenings Project is such a worthwhile organization. In addition to the fantastic artwork, I know that every dollar of my donation goes directly to help persons recovering from mental illnesses and not to some drug company funded agenda.
We were looking for artwork to enhance the atmosphere of our nonprofit psychology clinic and that's when we discovered the wonderful Awakenings Project. We ended up buying a superb piece of art from a client who struggled with depression. The piece is hung proudly in a place of honor in our clinic and many clients and clinicians have appreciated not only the art itself, but the story of the artist working to overcome his challenges. The Awakenings Project is awesome!
The Awakenings Project is a wonderfuul non-profit created to help those, like me, suffering from various forms of mental illness express ourselves through the arts. One would be hard-pressed to find an organization serving the mentally ill population as successfully as The Awakenings Project. Awakenings has proven to be a very valueable creative outlet for me--without Awakenings I would have no voice and continue to feel the affects of stigma from the general public.
The Awakenings Project is an organization that everyone should get behind and support! The awesome volunteers at Awakenings are helping break down barriers and changing lives, like mine, just by existing!
The Awakenings Project is a wonderful non-profit unlike any other. It's focus on those who are affected by mental illness is truly a rarity in today's world and deserves far more attention than it has been receiving to-date.
I am a proud supporter of The Awakenings Project and have been for the last couple of years. Anyone who has had their lives touched by mental illness will find the staff and volunteers at this organization understand the needs of those afflicted by psychological diseases. Awakenings encourages healing through art--in all it's forms--to better not only the mental health community, but the world at large. This unique non-profit seeks to be a voice and outlet for an often overlooked segment of our society--the mentally ill.
As a mental health consumer and writer, this organization has filled a need for me; a need to be heard! There is no other non-profit quite like it in the world and I really can't say enough great things about it!
The Awakrnngs Project has meant so very much to me. Coming out of partial brain removal in 2003 , I was quite reserved to say say the least.y mental illness had taken over my being. I came over to the Awakenimgs Project aroun 2006. It has meant all tje very being of my inside expression. Havimg beem an art major in college, I did bave a bit of formal knowledge though bundled up inside and me being dased and confused(sorry for the saying). The Awakenings Project helped me to blossum back to my artistic roots amd also helped in my socialising, too. Still a part of the project, it makes me want to be a light to others suffering from menal illness as I do. Without the Awkenings Project I would have never been better off!
Awakenings has brought me from a sheltered state to one that I can communicate freely with other like minded individuals. The shows we have are great to show off the fine arts side of the Project.
I have been in touch with this organisation from the early days of my own recovery. It inspired me to know that there was such a celebration of talents and a proactive response to people's abilities in encouraging them to take their work forward and bring it to the wider attention of society at large. In so doing the public can appreciate the gifts of people rather than being made aware of their so-called deficits which every human being has should we choose to look at life that way. The quality and diversity of the work produced has been nothing short of astounding. I am extremely proud to be associated with this highly acclaimed enterprise and the passion the workers show.
I was so surprised when I found The Awakenings Project. A roomful of artists and art supplies and I could come and use the studio and have a place to paint and not worry about the smell of turpentine or a bit of spilled paint. My apartment complex would never allow that. And on top of that we have shows! My art can be seen! A chance to have someone connect with what my art says about what I feel, what pain I have been thru, where I find healing in my life. I love the shows. They allow those of us with Mental Illnesses to speak to the public, to help them understand our lives, our talents. And some of us are even able to sell our artwork to have the money to make more. But most of all I like being able to talk to people who "get it" and share our struggles and our joys as we walk thru life looking for healing and acceptance.
Amazing. I love the Awakenings Project and am so grateful for all those that they help through art. It is a beautiful Project that everyone could benefit from. I look forward to partnering with the Awakenings Project in the Future! Irene and crew you rock!
The Awakenings Project is an amazing group of artists that empowers those living with mental illness. I have spent an afternoon with the artists in studio and I felt honored to be creating alongside fellow artists. I am an Art Therapist and firmly believe in the creative process of art making. Creating artwork can connect you to your true self and soul and is very healing. They are amazing and we are blessed to have them in our area.
I began with Awakenings in 2004. Initially I was heavily involved and did many of the shows and helped with set-up and spent a lot of time at the studio. I would say that the Awakenings Project helped me through some pretty dark periods in my life. Over the years I became less involved in the shows and set-up and became a board member-- fast forwarding to now where i am a advisory board member due to my rather busy life. I have witnessed the transformation one can experience by being a part of Awakenings Project as i know that others have as well. Next May i will be finishing up my masters in Social Work and hope to have more time to be involved with Awakenings Project-- as i know that they continue to reach out and touch many others.
I have been a member of Awakenings for eight years-during the eight years-I had a my art work in art shows and even got an award from one art show-I volunteer for Awakenings by helping getting donations and also I volunteer for Awakenings by doing art groups at two nursing homes-since I have been a member of Awakenings the organization has helped me with my recovery of my mental illness-I would refer Awakenings to other people
When the Awakenings Project moved to Elgin, Il I became aware and involved in the work they were doing to help precious people deal with their illness and flourish. They help artists who deal with psychiatric illness in the visual arts, drama, music and writing. For me they gave me a group of people I could spend time with, network with and process my life. I am not actively involved now but the project gave me a base to help build my life on.
My name is Mary Ann and I suffer from a mental illness, schizophrenia, and I love art. I am a self-taught artist and although I knew I was not alone, I never knew that there were groups on line for people just like me. Even tho I live several states away, The Awakenings Project has had a big impact on my life. My confidence level has risen and I am inspired so much by the other members works. I hope to take a road trip some day and meet this great group of people.
Thank you so much Mary Ann for taking the time and investing the energy to write a review of Awakenings. You are so awesome! You've been an inspiration to me, to know that we can have an influence even from a distance. Keep creating and sharing. I know the whole Awakenings community loves your energy! Irene
I'm writing this review with some sense of bias--I'm the current President of the Awakenings Project and in 1996 and 1997 I got the ball rolling, as the founder you might say. I think the story of how Awakenings was founded speaks volumes for the wonderful and important work that we do. I appoached the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Illinois with a proposal to display an art show at their annual conference in 1997 where all the exhibitors would have mental illnesses. NAMI agreed. As a person with serious mental illness, I was just learning of the power of art on the self perception and self esteem of people who have mental illnesses. Expecting only a dozen artists to come out for that first show we got four times that many! The show was a terrific success! The next year we had another, and another after that. The momentum grew such that The Awakenings Project became an organization in its own right. Today very many of the people who started Awakenings are still with it! It's taken a life of its own and it guided the lives of many, including mine.
I suffer from a mental illness, and I am on SSDI. After first recieving SSDI, I felt like a failure becuase I am no longer able to work. However, I have a creative spirit, and The Awakenings Project allowed me to channel that gift in an extremely posotive way. Once agian I had an identity, that was truer than any other I had possesed before. I am an artist, and Awakenings gave me an avenue to showcase, express, and help others with their creative works. Not to mention the friendships that have developed through the group!
I am tremendously thankful for the help from the non profit project called Awakenings. Besides giving my cherished artwork a significant place to show, I have loved providing music for the events. When I moved back to live with my parents I was able to exhibit several paintings and ceramic pieces for an Awakenings show in Aurora, Illinois. It made me feel better to gain my own self confidence and an overall good feeling. Now, when I'm asked to play my guitar, I feel so happy to provide music for different Awakenings events.
When I became disabled with my bipolar disorder, I knew I wanted to pursue my interest in the arts - particularly photography. On the very first show I was able to participate in I sold two of four of my exhibited pictures. I have participated in many since and have made many new friends. I am very grateful for this outlet.
Awakenings is an artists collaborative whose members happen to also be recovering, or in recovery, from mental illnesses. Awakenings has touched the lives of many people and facilitated joyful creativity for persons in hospitals, mental health centers, nursing homes, and the community. They offer a Drop-In Art Studio in Elgin every Saturday from 11 am -1:00 pm with free art materials, laid-back companionship, acceptance, and friendly encouragement to join in and play!
Volunteers conduct art classes and 'happenings' everywhere they can - nursing homes, national and local Recovery Conferences in Chicago, Elgin, Lisle and beyond; host art exhibits showcasing their members’ work at art galleries, public libraries, colleges and universities, stage poetry readings, and publish a fine bi-annual literary journal, The Awakenings Review, with writings from consumer-survivors and family members. Awakenings awards scholarships to deserving artists to recognize their talent and help bankroll their art supplies or studies.
This organization runs on pure love. The founding members take phone calls from all over the country and are always open to including new people who happen to hear of Awakenings, at times even picking them up and bringing them into their homes for a meeting and a meal! Or dropping by the home of a supporter in another state as they drive through on their family vacation!
Awakenings has survived and thrived for over a decade now - how many consumer-run organizations getting by on a shoestring can claim such longevity?
I support Awakenings because of its work celebrates the gifts and strengths of persons with mental illnesses, educates the public, fights stereotypes and stigma, sets the spirit free, and is a remarkable band of brothers and sisters. Come join us!
Since I started attending Awakenings, Saturday is my most favorite day of the weekend. I have found a space to go to to express my art in the company of other fellow artists. I make greeting cards, including hand painted Christmas cards to my heart's content, I have lunch there and I write in my journal after everyone leaves. I have brought several of my friends to Awakenings and I am so grateful for the space to thrive in as a creative individual.
Irene and Sandy come weekly, after their regular fulltime jobs, to enthrall 4 tables of residents at our facility with their magical art group. The clients at first were hesitant as they did not believe they were "creative."
Now, they are working on projects in between sessions with Sandy and Irene. It is the most popular group at West Chicago Terrace Intermediate Care Facility. Everyday a resident will stop me and say "when is the art group?" Thanks Irene and Sandy.
"The Awakenings Project" has enabled me to get connected to some of the most talented artists I have ever met. I remember going to the "old" studio in downtown Glen Ellyn with a group of Awakenings members. The studio had a charm of its own: it was filled with art materials and tools, but what caught my eye was clay. I ended up making a sculpture and with the help of friends having it fired. That was my first time working with artisan clay.
A couple of years after, I started taking art courses at the College of Dupage, in part due to being involved in "The Awakenings Project". I love to paint and draw. Art moves me in a way that nothing else does.
The poetry readings and art exhibits are great for us to meet and share ideas and stories.
A great resource for people in my community, Awakenings is a positive and encouraging place for artists to explore creative arts, and empower and express themselves in the process. I constantly recommend The Awakenings Project art studio to the patients I work with at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, especially those who demonstrate interest and/or talent in art of any kind. The people of Awakenings make it an exceptional, unique and fun experience that everyone can enjoy.
I remember being back in the old Mason Lodge, and the first day I come by getting an old indian loom, and working on the other loom too. The Awakenings Project is great!!
Why is art important to mental health? It was a dreary January morning when I was barely able to drive myself to the hospital, my thinking was so screwed-up. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but I was extremely paranoid. So much so, that I nearly ran out of the therapist’s office in fear. But then I saw some pencil drawings of a rock and roll band on the inside of her office door. That really put me at ease; I knew the therapist could be trusted, so I stayed and got treatment. That wasn't the work of an Awakenings artist on her door, but now I continue to appreciate the artwork of others through my association with the Awakenings Project.
The Awakenings Project was co-founded by one of the 3 co-owners of Gallery Trio, Irene O'Neill. She has helped Robert Lundin, the founder, to keep it going for nearly 15 years already. Here at Gallery Trio, we have had several of the Awakenings artists exhibit in our gallery, alongside many other talented local artists, and the caliber of the work is right up there with the best of them. Awakenings has helped dispel some of the stigma against people with mental illnesses by showcasing the talents of some incredible artists, introducing them to the community at large, to other artists, and to patrons of the arts. They have developed quite a following, with their website www.awakeningsproject.org and facebook group. The other 2 co-owners of Gallery Trio commend The Awakenings Project for all the good work they all do, cooperatively.
This art project has been my lifeblood for the past 13 years. I helped founder Robert Lundin get it off the ground in 1996. It was supposed to be a one-weekend long art show, and thanks to the energies of the member artists, it has extended its run by going on 14 years. The empowerment felt by artists and people doing the administration, all of whom are directly impacted by mental illnesses, is unbelievable. We've had so much press coverage, interest by the general public in the positive contributions by artists with mental illnesses and videos made about our work it's been a great learning experience and the camaraderie in the relationships that have been formed is very deep. We are like a family.