Awakenings is thrilled to have welcomed two new board members in 2019. Luis Martinez and Christina Bourne have brought so much warmth, passion, and wisdom to to the organization, it’s hard to remember what it was like without them! Awakenings’ Board of Directors has been a beacon of leadership for many years now and we are so excited to have two new warriors fighting for us. Luis and Christina regularly remind the staff why we’re here and what we’re fighting for, and they do it with the biggest smiles (and sometimes with delicious baked goods).

Laura Kinter

Executive Director

Question: What are your forms of artistic expression? 

Christina:  Music /singing has always been my go to art form. I have spent my entire life singing my way through good and difficult times. If you are around me for any length of time, I usually sing at some point, or have a song for most of the conversations I am having.

Luis: I am not myself an artist, but I am committed to supporting artists, especially those that are just starting out on the journey of artistic expression.  When I worked with refugee and immigrant youth, I helped them find their artistic voice and vision, despite not having a background in the arts.

Q: How has art impacted your healing journey?

CB: The arts in general have always been a way for me to not just release but also examine. Often times when we are processing things in our lives – good or bad – we have a tendency to want to move from the emotion quickly or maintain the “feeling” as long as we can without examining the why. The arts have allowed me to get to the whys of things…to go beyond just feeling to understanding and growing through a situation. Art making has been my livelihood and my saving grace. It has bridged the gaps for me left by various traumas and continues to provide a space of healing, life, fun, and introspection that are so needed in life.

LAM: In my work with trauma survivors, I have seen first hand how art can help someone begin their healing journey.  I have met kids, for example, that used painting as a way to open up to others, and as a way to acknowledge their past while overcoming it.  

Q: What do you hope people who see or experience your art walk away with?

CB: Whenever I perform – solo or with my amazing family – I hope people walk away feeling inspired, empowered, and enlivened. I hope they have enjoyed the journey and remember their favorite stops/songs along the way. I hope they were able to connect with some portions of the music and story being told and continue to live out the lessons of love and kindness embedded in them.

Q: How did you find Awakenings?

CB: I was introduced to the ED, Laura by a mutual colleague, Jacki Davidoff. She asked if I would meet with Laura to provide some executive leadership coaching and just get to know the her and the work. I came into the space and fell completely in love with the mission and vision. As I walked through the exhibit, I was awash with emotions and grateful for ths chance meeting. My experience that day – as person taking in the art – was the most healing experience of my life as a survivor. I wanted to give that same opportunity to anyone who needed and waned it. So, I joined the board!

LAM: It was just this year that I decided to try and put together an exhibition of art made by the youth that I work with.  Many had never expressed themselves artistically before.  I provided them with basic materials: paintbrushes, canvas, paints, clay, markers, paper.  And in the weeks that followed, they created dozens of paintings, drawings, and sculptures–sophisticated pieces that reflected their cultures and life experiences.  I was blown away by their ability to take on a something completely new to them.  The kids I work with have endured much in their young lives, yet they are full of potential and drive and wonder.  

It was right after my first time organizing an exhibition that I met Laura, Awakenings’ Executive Director, and she told me about the organization’s work.  I was so excited to keep learning about the healing power of artistic expression.  I began attending Awakenings events, and became more and more involved.  Now, as a member of the Board of Directors, my hope is to help Awakenings grow to reach more and more people, and to continue to have an impact in the community.  

Q: What has your connection to/relationship with Awakenings been like? 

LAM: Joining the Awakenings community has been the highlight of my year.  The staff, volunteers, and artists have created a truly unique space that is warm, inclusive, and welcoming.

CB: I am new to the work and to the board, so really just look forward to learning and growing with it. I have attended a few events, and a board retreat, and look forward to continuing to help to steer this beautiful org in the best directions possible.

Q: How do you think Awakenings serves survivors & allies alike?

LAM: The artists and survivors that have visited our galley and attended our events have told me that they are so appreciative of the community that we’ve created.  Our gallery is a safe, tolerant, inclusive space and that means a lot to people who have experienced violence and isolation.  For our allies, they have told me that visiting the gallery is an eye-opening experience, one that makes a strong impression. It helps people to remember that sexual violence is an ongoing problem, and that survivors need our support.

Q: Why do you think the mission of Awakenings is important? How does making visible the artistic expression of survivors impact our community at large?

LAM: We are the only gallery doing this type of work.  Having a permanent, physical space that is devoted to this type of art is so important.  Our small, humble gallery represents commitment to the a cause.  We are here to support survivors.  We are here to display their art.  We are here as partners and allies and friends.

CB: There is a saying, “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.” This is how you build empathic environments and begin to turn the tide. Awakenings is not inviting people to gawk at others pain, but to feel in and think about the ways we are all creating healing, change, and power in our lives daily. That is the beauty of Awakenings…that is what this work opens our eyes to do.

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Christina Bourné is an accomplished arts administrator, educator, and performing artist based in Chicago, IL. She began her career as a public speaker and guest soloist for women’s and youth enrichment conferences across the Midwest before becoming a teaching artist and arts administrator. During her career she has helped to create in-school and after school programs, facilitated workshops and lectures and even a concert series to discuss social and cultural issues such as race, gender equality, and collective non-violence through the lens of the arts. Her past leadership roles in arts administration have been Director of Creative Engagement at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University where she grew the department’s program reach to 20,000+ participants per year, Interim Executive Director of Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, and founding member and Program Manager for Enrich Chicago—an arts led movement aimed at undoing racism and building racial equity within the sector. When not enhancing lives through arts advocacy or arts and enrichment program development, she can be found performing with her family of nine—comprised of her seven siblings and her mother—The Bournés. Christina is an independent non-profit consultant working with individuals and organizations throughout Chicago and nationally with a focus on fundraising, board development, strategic planning, and organizational leadership. She will be stepping into the role of Director of Development for Forward Momentum Chicago in 2020 and is the newly appointed Board Vice Chair of Awakenings.

Originally from Peru, Luis A. Martinez grew up in Connecticut, and has been living in Chicago for the past 12 years.  For the majority of his time in Chicago, Luis has been devoted to human rights work on behalf of Heartland Alliance, a non-profit organization that provides many social services in the city.  Specifically, Luis has been working to support refugee and immigrant youth from all over the world.  It is from these young people that he draws his dedication and passion for supporting survivors of trauma.  And it was through this work with them that Luis first became aware of the potential for survivors to heal through artistic expression