The Awakenings Project: Empowering and healing through art

ARC Gallery ShowThe Awakenings Project

The Awakenings Project is a grass-roots initiative in the Chicago suburbs, whose mission is to foster, advance, and support the creative efforts of artists with mental illnesses and/or addictions. In addition, The Awakenings Project works to raise public awareness, acceptance and appreciation of art by people in recovery in all creative endeavors but especially fine arts, music, literature, and drama.


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  This program is partially funded through a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

About Us

As a multi-faceted organization, The Awakenings Project has grown steadily over the last two decades. Its programs encompass exhibits and sales of fine art, the publishing of an award-winning literary journal (The Awakenings Review), production of CDs of music and poetry, readings and development of works of the theatre.

Preparing for the first showThe forerunner of the Project, The Awakenings Art Show, debuted in 1997, and was a regular activity of the group for many years. Today, with the operation of a working art studio,  artists have access to a "drop-in" environment which provides a supportive creative atmosphere, including work space, companionship, and solitude for those who seek it. The studio was established in Glen Ellyn in 1999. In July 2008, it was relocated to Elgin, Illinois, where it is used for multiple functions, including  writing workshops, play rehearsals, and receptions.

Since 2000, The Awakenings Review has published 17 issues. The journal receives submissions from all quarters of the U.S. and from a host of foreign countries. Established in conjunction with the University of Chicago Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, the journal publishes works by writers and poets who have a disclosed relationship with mental illness, either self, family member, or friend. In its pages the journal has and will continue to publish insightful, moving and provocative literature, and has been hailed by established literary figures as an important addition to the literary community.

Artist at WorkIn 2020, The Awakenings Review was awarded "The Gutenberg" for excellence in graphic design. Awakenings was also the winner of the "Outstanding Contribution to Recovery by a Non-Profit Organization" award from the Irwin Foundation at Celebration Recovery in 2006. Awakenings has received  "Stigma Busters" awards from Ecker Center at the Elgin Country Club in 2010 and 2015. In 2018, it was selected for the Best of Elgin Award for Non-Profit Organization. The award was created to honor and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of businesses and organizations in and around Elgin, Illinois.



The Awakenings Project has recently presented an exhibition of art at The Ann Brierly Gallery at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, from May 2 through May 13, 2022. The show was for the benefit of students at New Trier with the intent that it open up a conversation about mental health and mental wellness.


Galleries and Exhibits

  • Winfield Public Library requested an exhibit of Awakenings Artwork. Dates and other details TBD.
  • Wheaton Public Library has requested an exhibit of Awakenings Artwork in their Arts and Culture section. Once the date has been determined, it will be updated here.


Awakenings Review

Awakenings Review

The Awakenings Review is published by the Awakenings Project. Established in cooperation with the University of Chicago Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation in 2000, The Awakenings Review has been acclaimed internationally and draws writers from all over the United States and a host of foreign countries which have included Israel, South Africa, Australia, Finland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, and Canada.


Can Art Ease Symptoms of Schizophrenia and Other Mental Illnesses?

Ryan Chacey, artist

Irene O'Neill, co-founder,
The Awakenings Project

Robert Lundin, founder,
The Awakenings Project


The Awakenings Project is a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity.        
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