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Jeff Phillips

Gabrielle Levy/MEDILL

Artist Jeff Phillips discusses a photo from his "Crowdspotting" series at RAWednesday salon at the Awakenings Foundation Center and Gallery.

Gallery and foundation gathers community of abuse survivors

by Gabrielle Levy
Jan 13, 2011


Gabrielle Levy/MEDILL

Paintings and mixed media works by sexual abuse survivors are on display at the Awakenings Foundation.     

Jean Cozier is not shy about who she is: Author. Musician. Art collector. Childhood sexual abuse survivor.

After more than 20 years speaking and writing about her pain and healing process, Cozier started the Awakenings Foundation Center and Gallery, intended to help others heal.

“People go through a phase where they believe they’re the only person this has ever happened to,” Cozier said. To heal, “they need to be part of a group.”

The Awakenings Foundation Center, 4001 N. Ravenswood, which Wednesday hosted a Ravenswood Artwalk RAWednesday salon, is a spare but open space in an older industrial building. Half the whitewashed gallery houses a permanent collection of works, many dark and surreal, by artists who are also abuse survivors; the other side is filled with a rotating temporary display.

“There wasn’t a dedicated home for artists that are abuse survivors,” she said. “The existing organizations are based on counseling.”

Cozier created Awakenings Foundation Center in April 2009, but it opens to the public for the first time in February. She intends the space to become a gathering place for artists, musicians and writers who are survivors of childhood abuse to support each other’s work.

“I’m kind of like a producer, helping people get their act together,” she said.

Cozier became involved with Artwalk by attending one of the monthly discussion salons last year and participated in the October 2010 headline event.

Artwalk President Bill Moran said the group tries to choose a different host venue for each salon, seeking out small businesses and galleries like Cozier’s.

“Ravenswood used to be more of a community of artists,” Moran said. “One of our missions is making people realize the importance of keeping artists in the community.”

Art is an avenue to free speech and creative thinking, Moran said, benefitting both artist and his community.

Cozier says the Awakenings Foundation will continue to collaborate with the Artwalk, hoping to raise awareness and support for the survivors’ community she fosters.