Oak Park resident William Alexander was a fixture on the local and Chicago-wide art scene. A lifetime member of the Oak Park Art League, he was responsible for helping the fledgling Awakenings Project obtain several exhibitions there, beginning in 1999. He was also a founding member on the planning committee of the first Awakenings Art Show in spring of 1997, for which planning began in fall of 1996.
Silent Cry, which is now in the collection of Robert Lundin, was the image used for the first postcard announcing the Awakenings Art Show at the NAMI-IL Conference. William Alexander’s “Madman Series” focuses on the human face to convey deeply moving psychological states of mind. Alexander's paintings communicate personal torment and anguish that is often overwhelming in its scale, expressionistic treatment of paint, and physical distortion. The viewer is thereby given the opportunity to experience the visual strength and emotional involvement this self-taught artist has invested in, “releasing negative energy in a creative form.”
Alexander recalled how difficult it was for him to get his emotionally arresting paintings shown, because curators thought they were “too anguished.” But The Awakenings Project provided an outlet for him and pushed him to expand his vision into larger mediums. “Being a part of this group allows me to help and encourage young artists to not be afraid to honestly express themselves.” William passed away in February of 2008, and his son held an unbelievably comprehensive exhibition of his father’s life’s work.