The Maker's Space Art Workshop with the creative clients of Haymarket Center

On April 4, 64 clients were invited to participate in making art and writing their stories so that their voices could be present at the first evening Gala for Haymarket Center. We explored the art of Neurographica which connects the subconscious emotions with the conscious using line drawing. The stories that connect with the art are sometimes heartbreaking but always real and show the creative human being behind the addictions. The fifth session of the series "Questions?" will be using this as an art medium and you can go through a session of your own with the guided steps.  The art itself is not the goal, however, the drawings are beautiful representations of emotions that are brought to the surface and then calmed down into a peaceful and connected state.

The first ever evening Gala was held on April 9, 2022 after two years of planning and pandemic delays. Details can be found on the Haymarket website and  It was a wonderful evening of award presentations, auctions, dinner and guest speaker Rob Lowe.  Here are some pictures of the clients art on the tables in the exciting venue of the Bulls Training Center in Chicago.


We asked the clients, at the end of 1 1/2 hours of concentrating on their art, to write what they felt about the experience and anything they might have noticed or learned.  Below, are the unedited stories that gave the clients a voice along with art, in the center of each table. To protect the privacy of the clients, we always use their client number.  Some clients are just beginning the treatment program, others are about to graduate out of the program, so they are all at different points in their journeys.  Some remember to include their client numbers, others do not.  Being in the same room of these highly creative individuals is always exciting because of the spirit of creativity that is undeniably present.


Just got in today.  Arrived at intake today and I am tired and have not slept in four days.  My first day was to be a part of this project.


Lost in ways (poem)

As I find my way 

To aye better day 

I seek away to a better place

As people, places and things lost my way

As this journey to it will find its way


FEELINGS – calm, distracted

A Dis-ease tumor

Wrapped in barbed wire it dribbles blood and puss, it rots, and it festers, its ok cuz put it back together!


‘Humble Me’

The dirt at my feet

The storm that turns to light rain

The breeze that blows it all away

To let me see to let me breathe


The name of my work is ‘I see you in the inside’

I see you 

True as Ice

True as Blue

Red is Fire

In the End

Together the world and I will go hand in hand


I feel stressed out, angry, tired and sometimes I want to leave 

This is how I feel RIGHT now

People are getting on my nerves

I just want to leave right now

Right now I feel very irritated

Sometimes I want to leave 

And said forget it I am done


Release of a Toxic Relationship

While doing this exercise I let out my emotions tied to a toxic relationship and how I am working on forgiving and letting go.  I love this person.  It’s fresh to experience both grief and then now RELEASE of a situation that does not serve what I’m striving for here in Recovery.

I see some balloons to help the ‘letting go’ process and releasing pain, hurt & frustration.  The circle represents harmony, divinity, love, balance & gifts all of which Haymarket has already shown me through their open doors.  I’m learning to become whole again and I cannot express how grateful I am to have been welcomed in with open arms.


I have been addict for over 30 years.  I’ve struggled in and out of rehab, prisons and sober living houses.  In that time I’ve been lost and felt despair until I came to Haymarket.  I have hope for my future!


I’ve struggled with alcohol for 5 ½ year.  I’ve been at Haymarket for 34 days.  I leave Thursday April 7th.  I’m peer leader.  I truly enjoyed it here.  I pray to God my sobriety is a good and a long and blessed one.  I know I’ll make it with God my higher power I’ll make it.  Mrs. Sunshine!


There’s HOPE…

Creating this piece was frustrating and confusing to me.  This was new and I felt like rushed.  As I began to just go with the flow and see my shapes, I just thought of this world today.  Crazy and feels hopeless.  But seeing my heart at the bottom, showed me there’s hope in this world if we come together, with peace and love the world can become a better place.


I feel disappointed.

I thought this art therapy session would give me more freedom to draw whatever I want.

I call this piece ‘Patience’


This is the world.  The arrows represent me trying to get free from addiction.  The blackness represents the things trying to keep me from being free from addiction. The blackness makes it seem like there is no where to go but there is always a way out.


I remember there was a time I was always angry and mean face and demeanor but coming into recovery I discovered the mask fell off and under it all was a smile and under it all I was happy and not realizing it was the drugs that made me angry and as each day passes I don’t use.  Good comes from it, I have become calm, relaxed and elevated.


Emotional – Father

This exercise made me think of my father.  He is in Africa and the colors remind me of my home country, Africa.







Eagles flying through a beautiful sunset 

I’m feeling a little gloomy right now

I’m feeling anxious, woozy, I left my glasses so I can’t see that well my writing sucks







Scare to stop



At first I felt rushed and had a bad heachache but toward the end I felt like picaso and now I feel my piece looks great.  I feel my work is good and I feel real good now. No depression at all and anxiety was gone and I would love to do more


Today was my first day at Haymarket and I really, really enjoyed this project thank you!  I was feeling sooo hopeless.

Thanks again

I call my art: Many Faces Piece


When we came in the room I was very anxious.  Wondering what was up.

After listening to what we were about to do I became very relaxed

Rounding the intersections was very calming 

All the cross talking made me very upset because of disrespect others were showing

Once I started with neurolines I again became very calm and relaxed like being home

I dearly loved this activity and hope for more like these

I love the finished project 

Thanks So Much Haymarket


I feel sleepy and calm very relaxed and also gifted

I also feel almost light before I was a little emotional and now I feel happy 

I was going through some things in my personal life that lead me here, to this rehab facility. So event little things like this helps me feel good.


When I first came to Haymarket in 2021 my life was a mess.  I blamed anything and everyone on my addiction.  When in reality my addiction was of my own doing.  I left here with some great tools and coping skills.  I lead a clean and sober life for about 3 months but once again down that road of life I went.  I lost my best friend, my mother and my partner of 20 years in all of 6 months.  My life fell apart.

Actually, I allowed it to.  March 15th I called Miss Marcella and ask her if Haymarket still accepted walk-ins.  My life was in shambles.  She told me yes they did and get up here now. So we drove all night.  I walked in at 7:30-8:00 am the 16th and I began my new life once again.  I will not let my addiction define me.  Haymarket has gained so much structure since 2020 and Miss Kandi and Miss Marcell in moms unit literally saved me.  I love this place they all really and truly care about us and do what it takes to make us get it.  PERIOD. 


Fish out of Water




Ill Equipped



Messed up



I’m on my 3rd trip at Haymarket.  So grateful to have a place to heal and get sober. I’m and addict and prostitute.  Trafficked by evil men who took advantage.  I know there’s hope of a brighter future.  Through this center I will be relocated out of state where I can breathe a sigh of relief.  Safely out of reach of men who would kill me for saying enough. 


I saw 23

It kept coming to me

It makes me feel excited and complete


‘A Cluttered Mind’

I find this to be a very relaxing exercise.  Its amazing how the penny has a mind of its own.  As I colored my piece I had a sense of release of emotions I had been holding in.  Feelings of despair, depression, irritability and as I kept going I started to feel a sense of peace and tranquility.

I love this exercise.  






I just feel sad like I don’t know what to do, I just feel really depressed and just want to give up.  I miss my family a lot and just want to go home.


I was stressed 

My paper looked a mess

My mind was distressed

Inhale, exhale

Now those lines told a tale of a young man who’s sat in jail but his art’s what prevailed.



I left what I feel on my paper

But other than that I feel great

Felt decent leaving my feeling on the art piece


Before I started: I am feeling excited

During the drawing: 

I feel calm

I feel Peaceful

I am happy

During the color part I stared to get anxiety

When I was rounding the corners I felt amazing, it made me feel connected to the world and felt really grounded

I hope you love this as much as I loved making it!



My story begins in an abusive relationship.  We were both addicts.  He has been an addict far longer than me.  I was hooked and slowly spiraled out of control.  I lost my job, my apartment and then my partner left me out in the street alone, scared, hopeless.  I really was at the worst moment of my life.  I decided to end my life by overdosing but a kind stranger came up to me, and helped me by calling and finding me a place to go eventhough I was nobody to him.

I walked through the doors at Haymarket.  The staff really connected with me they told me you are a person, you matter you need help.  They said you are brave for walking into the unknown.  And they told me that I could get better and that they would help me get through this.

I thank God for Haymarket every day and the great people I met who have guided me through this journey.  Because believe me I know I would be dead if it wasn’t for both.





Parole led me here.  I am seeking a safe haven from my self-destructive personality traits. 


My drawing is incomplete because my story and my journey is incomplete


I miss my baby boy Dercy so much and I have a loving wife that miss me also I have a mother than miss me.  I have a mother-in-law that I love so much.  I have a loving father that I love and I also love my self and I also love God so much.  I love this peace.


Hello what I am about to tell you is my thoughts and feelings when creating this artwork.

When I first started this piece I choose this colorful background because it showed all the unknown.  Emotions I felt at the time, calmness, irritation, peace. Then I picked up my pen and began to create something unknown.

As I started I was irritated then I started to calm down a little.  So, you can say I was ‘calmly irritated’ 

Hence the title.

Life’s not perfect so my drawing isn’t either but it shows that you can have mixed emotions all throughout life.  You may be calm one minute and irriated the next, or you can be both at once.

So, I am naming my piece ‘calming irritated’.  In it you can see a moon, an egg, and a bird in mystery, sea of colors or emotions.  Another thin I created this out of anger, then irritation, then calmness.  Now I am Gucci good and gold.  If you like it enjoy, if not, I don’t care.  I am relaxed now and I love it.  


I am transgender and I feel trapped and unwanted.  Here at Haymarket and want to leave but I am scared to overdose again.  I have no family, no sober friends, no support.  I’m 3 weeks clean and feel good being in a sober mind frame, I’m scared, alone and anxiety.


Walking Dead

In my addiction I was a dead man walking.  Physically I was alive but spiritually and mentally I was dead and in my addiction I lost love and respect for myself and my loved ones.  I am so grateful and thankful to my higher power and Haymarket because the day I took the step to walk in Haymarket through the grace of my higher power the greatest journey of my life began and know I learned how to love and respect myself and my loved ones and others.  I just want to live now and no longer am I committing suicide multiple times a day by not knowing what I am putting in my body.  I have made a decision to live as happy as I can and give back whatever I can to others.  My mind is made up I can’t use at all if I don’t want to die.  I am no longer being blind today I know my higher power have blessed me at all times and he done multiple dozen of miracles for me.  He has brought me back to life over 30 times after I overdosed.

No #














No #

If serenity was a song she would be like water

Can’t imagine the universe void of light, life, warmth or tears

Kinda what life is like without Ma

Don’t quite know why in crying behind my eyes…must be minor chords in the music

If sadness was a song he would be a hard heart

Can’t quite know what key is in; starting to feel like A minor

I’m really digging the music more than the emotional trip that is tripping me out

No #

My addiction

In my addiction no matter what road I took I always ended up back to the same place and I thank God 

No #

Today I feel focused, relaxed, happy and I have realized art is not as hard as it look or seems, and after art therapy I feel joyful and at ease and I thank  my higher power and Haymarket for giving me the tools to do things in a normal state of mind and feeling happy about it.  I realize today that I live without drugs is a lot easier.  I am more happy and more joyful and guiltless

No #

Walking Dead

In my addiction I was a dead man.  Walking spiritually and mentally thanks to my higher power and Haymarket.


This is my story

I grew up in Cicero/Berwyn.  I was the grandson of a pastor in Cicero.  In 1995, due to high volume of gang activity, my grandpa decided to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico and pastor a new church.  

I was 15 at the time and went to a Christian school.  I could have graduated when I was junior in High School, but wanted to play H.S. basketball and went to a public school and graduated Salutatorian. At 18 I joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served 6 years in the Reserves and left the Marine Corps as a Sergeant with an honorable discharge.  At 21 years old, I joined the New Mexico State Police where I served 15 years.  During my career with the State Police, I worked Governor security and protected Governor.  Due to a loophole with the New Mexico State Police, transferred to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s department and served 2 years.  I retired from Law Enforcement with 17 physical years, but 20 years on the books.  I retired at 38 years old.  I had a gambling addiction at the age of 21 years old and have been to gamblers anonymous a few times.  Each time quitting and trying to do it on my own.  I have failed each time, but due to my addiction I never judged others addition while in Law Enforcement. I didn’t set no goals after retirement and went through a bad break-up which caused me to spiral and start experimenting with a lot of different drugs.  I really liked cocaine and started abusing this drug until it caused so much pain in my nose, I switched to crack and smoked it.  Last year I made the most I have ever made but also had the least.  I made over $100,000 gambling but lost it all back to gambling and crack.  At the end I was living in my car after getting fired from my job and abusing crack.

I moved back to Illinois to get back on my feet but started going back to my old ways of gambling and using crack.  I was hesitant to get help due to pride.  I decided to give Haymarket Center a chance and has been the best decision of my life.  I have learned I needed this more than I ever thought possible.

Due to the dedicated counselors and staff I have learned so much in group and learned addiction is a lifelong battle, but with the right support and dedication I can get back my life and family.  I plan to volunteer at Haymarket to give back to them for letting me have a second chance at life.  I am eternally grateful to Haymarket Center.


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