The Athens Photographic Project (APP) came about in 2001, when our founder, mental health advocate Elise Sanford, noticed a lack of recovery services in Southeast Ohio. She also noticed that people living with mental illness were often isolated and uninvolved in the community. Elise knew they were capable of much more.

Since our founding, we have offered introductory and advanced photography courses, as well as exhibition opportunities, for adults and teens living with mental illness. By nurturing students’ creativity, classes provide opportunities for self-exploration, self-expression, and renewed self-worth.¬†APP students also have a transformative impact outside of the classroom, where their work adds a powerful voice to the arts and generates greater understanding about mental health.

To date, APP has helped people living in Athens, Hocking, and Vinton counties in Appalachian Ohio. After their coursework, many of our students choose to stay involved with APP and grow as artists through the years. Our wait list for introductory classes continues to lengthen, and we are continually looking for ways to expand our program.