Join Gizelle Clemens and Victoria Sockwell as they explore the vibrant and inclusive environment of the Hyde Park Art Center. Gizelle, a resident of Hyde Park, is excited to discover the artistic offerings of her community. Victoria, representing the Art Center, highlights its commitment to supporting young Chicago artists from diverse backgrounds, including those with disabilities. The Art Center serves as a dynamic space where the community actively participates in artistic growth and development. Wide hallways, easy-to-use elevators, and thoughtful spacing ensure that everyone can navigate the space comfortably. Victoria discusses upcoming plans to expand the ceramics studio to provide more accessible seating and additional room for ease of movement. This proactive approach reflects the Art Center’s dedication to enhancing accessibility for all participants.

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GIZELLE: Hi, my name is Gizelle Clemens. I am a resident of Hyde Park, and we are currently at the Hyde Park Art Center.

VICTORIA SOCKWELL: Hi, good morning.

GIZELLE: Hi, good morning!


GIZELLE: I’m well. How are you?

VICTORIA SOCKWELL: I’m doing good. Victoria.

GIZELLE: Gizelle. Nice to meet you.

VICTORIA SOCKWELL: Nice to meet you. Welcome to the space. Have you been here before?

GIZELLE: No, I haven’t. I’m really excited.


GIZELLE: Thank you.

VICTORIA SOCKWELL: My name is Victoria Sockwell. I work for the Hyde Park Art Center. We basically put together artists and curators to bring them here to do commissioned work. Supporting young Chicago artists who are just getting their footing and giving them an outlet to grow as artists, whether they take classes here, or they do some of our professional development. That can really catapult the career of an artist, and so we’re here kind of every step of the way. It’s mostly going to be people from Chicago, but it’s people across nationalities, ethnicities …

GIZELLE: Abilities?

VICTORIA SOCKWELL: Abilities, too.

GIZELLE: The Art Center is a welcoming, intersectional, dynamic space, that really feels like they allow the community to be a part of the work that’s here.

VICTORIA SOCKWELL: Accommodating all disabilities is super important to the Art Center. I think that we are constantly evolving and changing. We’re not a “no” organization. We’ll never tell somebody “no” straight up. It’s always more about, like, how can we make this happen? I think that something we’re really good at is making sure that there’s enough space to move around. We’re constantly learning and constantly thinking about our spaces and how we can improve. Even, like, the height of a lot of the work — we never put it up too high, it’s not too low.

GIZELLE: You give them everything that they need.


GIZELLE: And then that captures everybody.


GIZELLE: How come I can’t think of art like this? (laughter) Like, what? Where is my creativity?

VICTORIA SOCKWELL: I think, sometimes, we’re all too hard on ourselves.

GIZELLE: Right? I think we make it more complicated than it really is and has to be.

VICTORIA SOCKWELL: Have fun with it. It doesn’t have to be so serious. Because then that’s where the magic happens.

GIZELLE: I will say that I’m an artist at heart. And I was really excited to see the ceramics studio. Because I’ve always been interested in ceramics. As Victoria was taking me through, she really was accommodating and talking about the ways that the Hyde Park Art Center could accommodate me to be able to take that class. So that was very encouraging.

VICTORIA SOCKWELL: Some of the ways that we are working toward accessibility is the in the forms of our actual space. The hallways are very wide for accessibility. We have our elevator that’s really easy to use, friendly to use. The ceramics studio is jam-packed with stuff. Some of the chairs in here are not very accessible for those who have any, like, back problems. So I know in the next coming plans, we’re going to expand this space out a little bit more. Add a little bit more wiggle room so it’s not so crowded in here. To allow for more of an easy workflow for others.

GIZELLE: I loved it, and I was really disappointed that I hadn’t come here sooner. I’m just very grateful for the opportunity and I think everyone would enjoy coming here. I love that the bathrooms were accessible. I love that the gallery spaces are not so vast that it feels overwhelming or tires someone like me out in my legs. They are really doing the great work that they can do. But in all spaces, I imagine, there’s always more to do. The fact that they are interested in that was very encouraging to hear and see.

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