The Awakenings Project – Art Exhibit

The Awakenings Project - Group Art Exhibit

St. Mark’s is pleased to show a group exhibit in the Sanctuary by the Awakenings Project from October 1 to November 26

All are welcome to attend the reception and conversation with the artists on Friday, October 20, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Contact Robert Lundin, [email protected], for additional information.

Description of The Awakenings Project

For over twenty-five years the Awakenings Project, a Wheaton-based arts organization, has served people who live with the challenges of mental illness. As our culture comes to terms with the stigma of mental illness, a growing number of groups like The Awakenings Project are finding the courage to gather and exhibit works of art by people labeled as mentally ill. 

It has been widely noted that among scores of celebrated artists, writers, and musicians there exists an intriguing relationship between mental illness and creativity. The Awakenings Project does not purport to be a breeding ground for artistic prodigies, but we have found there is widespread interest in the arts among individuals coping with mental illnesses.

According to data published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, as much as 18% of the population of the United States experiences symptoms of mental illness in any given year. As many as 25% of women and 12% of men experience an episode of major depression sometime during their lives. Fully 1% of the population has schizophrenia while another 1% to 2% lives with a bipolar disorder. In recent years, there have been important advancements in the treatment of these illnesses, through medicine and rehabilitation, and we believe an effort such as The Awakenings Project significantly advances recovery and empowerment.

Artists’ Statement

“Awakening the Spirit Within”

An exhibit of artwork and creativity by members of The Awakenings Project


The mind is the center of extraordinary complexity.  It is the final frontier of understanding of the human body by medical science. There are approximately one hundred billion cells in the brain, called neurons, through which psychic energy flows, a similar number, it is said, to the stars in the Milky Way.


It is extraordinary too, that from this complex organ arises the mind. Is the mind simply a function of neural activity, or, as René Descartes postulated in the 17th century, is it the seat of the soul, like a transmitter of the eternal and transcendent? This is the classic mind-body problem that has inspired philosophers and scientists for millennia. 


There are members of the human community who are troubled either by aberrant neural activity, or, as William James wrote, a sick soul. Whatever the reason, we, the artists in this exhibit, have experienced dysfunctions of the brain, or the mind, commonly described as psychiatric disorders.


While we suffer, we create. For reasons, only partly known, people with a lived experience of mental illness have a drive to create, more so than the community at large. For centuries, the connection between mental illness and artistic endeavor has been noted, studied and celebrated.  


Unabashedly, here is our work. This exhibit is both a corporeal process of the eye and the hand as well as a communication of the spirit that lies within all of us at the Awakenings Project. Moreover, this is only a sliver of the work that artists at the Awakenings Project produce; we also support creative work in many of the arts including theatre, music, and literature. 


Art awakens our spirits and we hope this spirit awakens your understanding of mental illness.