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Sarah Laing and Dayna Block, Open Studio project

"An open, safe art space for community art making."

· Non-Profits,Arts

Dayna Block (third from left) and Sarah Laing (fourth from left) along with the rest of the OSP team

Tell us about yourself and your business! What do you do or sell?

Open Studio Project (OSP) is a non-profit arts and social services organization in Evanston, Illinois. We provide unique, stimulating, powerful programming combining art-making and writing, with a special emphasis on using the creative arts to inspire personal growth, interpersonal understanding, and positive social change. Open Studio Project’s mission is to provide a welcoming environment for people of diverse backgrounds and abilities to create art that stimulates personal growth, enhances social-emotional intelligence, and promotes community well-being. Through workshops, classes, gallery exhibits, and especially community partnerships, we promote the power of using art-making as a safe and reliable medium for personal growth and exploration. More specifically, our goal is for participants to learn how to turn to their own creativity in order to increase self-awareness, empathy, and clarity in transitional times. Specific issues for some of our participants have included life-goal clarification, career changes, illness, bereavement, and managing feelings of hopelessness and anger during adolescence and adulthood.

903 Sherman Ave

Evanston, IL 60202


Why did you start this business? If you were a superhero, what would your origin story be?

The organization was launched in 1991 from the vision of three artists/art therapists who sought to channel their passion into community service. Adults and children, who otherwise might not experience how painting or drawing can release untapped internal potential, are a target audience. The founders believed that creativity can provide the strength, stability, and solace to overcome significant social and emotional challenges. The studio began in a paint-splattered storefront space in Chicago and has been in its Evanston storefronts since 2000.

What's the story behind the name of your business?

It was meant to be an open, safe art space for community art making.

Why did you choose to locate your business in Evanston? What do you love about coming to work here?

We wanted to expand the workshops to serve a wider community and we liked the non-profit partners here. We have been able to collaborate and serve thousands of residents over the years.

What sets your business apart from others that perform the same service or sell the same products?

We don't comment or critique the artwork. People can use the art for self-care and work on all kinds of life issues here.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business?

Diversify your income sources

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