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Become a
project onward Artist

Project Onward serves 50 artists, each with unique creative styles and facing diverse challenges, from autism to mental illness. All artists pass through a competitive selection process that evaluates their artistic talent, potential for creative growth and desire to advance as a professional artist before joining Project Onward. Member artists range in age from early-20s to early-70s and represent over 30 Chicago neighborhoods and several suburbs.

eligibility requirements

Artists who are interested in applying for participation in the Project Onward studio program need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be 18 years or older.

  • Be living with a developmental disability and/or mental illness​​.

  • Have experience with personal art making (recommended that artists have at least two years experience with personal art making beyond classes or therapy.).

  • Must be under the care of a mental health provider (e.g. case manager, social worker, therapist, psychiatrist), if you are living with a mental illness or have a developmental disability with special emotional or behavioral needs.


To apply, download the Artist Application, and send the completed application with photos of 10-12 artworks created within the last two years to

review and admission process

A panel will meet to review all completed applications and portfolios (portfolios of 10-12 artworks created in the last two years should be submitted with the completed application). Following the review, the applicant will be contacted. If invited for an interview, Project Onward will make a decision within 10 business days. Artists accepted into the program will be admitted to the studio on a trial basis for 3 months, during which time further assessments will be made to determine if the artist will make a proper long-term fit at Project Onward.

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