Pablo Picasso. Vincent van Gogh. Frida Kahlo. Three of the most renowned painters of all time transformed years, and decades, of pain into the most iconic paintings in history. In Chicago, Awakenings encourages their artists to do the same.

Awakenings empowers survivors of sexual violence to turn their pain into art. Founded in 2010 by Jean Cozier, the Awakenings gallery is located in Ravenswood and holds events such as exhibit openings, musical concerts, dance performances, open mic and poetry nights, art-making and writing workshops and more.

Survivors can become involved with Awakenings by attending any of the events or programming. The gallery is  also open for visits Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Laura Kinter, Awakenings’ Associate Director joined Awakenings about four years ago. According to Kinter, what separates Awakenings from other organizations offering advocacy and counseling services to survivors of sexual assault is that Awakenings is focused on healing through the arts.

“Each piece of art hanging on our walls is accompanied by a statement from the artist about the impact the art making had on their healing process.”

Kinter also noted that the art has just as powerful an affect on the its audiences as it does its creators.

“Art helps educate allies in a different way–reading a story about the pain and trauma an artist released onto a canvas after experiencing sexual assault is much different than a viral hashtag. The art and the stories become impossible to ignore.”

With a staff of four, one of the biggest challenges Awakenings has faced as an organization is in keeping up.

“The tidal wave of support we’ve received since sexual assault has taken over the media is a wonderful challenge. We need to sustain and expand our programming to keep up with it,” Kinter said.

Call to Action

Interested in getting involved with Awakenings?

  • Survivors can submit artwork or writing
  • Send an email (
  • The staff is always accepting volunteers, board members, associate board members, committee members, and new friends
  • Stop by the gallery (4001 North Ravenswood Ave Ste. 204-C
    Chicago, IL 60613) any time from Tuesday through Friday, 10am to 4 pm to see the art and get to know them
  • Donate