Polsky Partners with Hyde Park Art Center to Bring Artists and Entrepreneurs Together

A sculpture by Hyde Park Art Center artist Beth Kamhi hangs in the Polsky Exchange.

Industrial bead chains flowed freely against the crimson brick wall; colorful glass balls shined under white strip light; artists conversed over drinks and desserts. On Thursday, November 1, the Polsky Center, along with the Hyde Park Art Center and Chicago-based artist Beth Kamhi, turned the Polsky Exchange into a postmodernist art gallery. As the latest joint force effort to combine arts with entrepreneurship, the Polsky Center installed 12 art pieces by Kamhi to decorate its coworking and office space at the Exchange, and it is expecting further collaboration with the Hyde Park Art Center.

The art opening on November 1 featured Kamhi’s signature industrial bead chains, which have been displayed in many other facilities around the Chicago area. Kamhi participated in The Center Program at Hyde Park Art Center five years ago as an artist in residence and has stayed in touch with the center since then. When the Polsky Center announced that it was accepting proposals for its art installation project as part of the partnership with the Hyde Park Art Center, Kamhi heard about this opportunity through the art center and jumped right in.

“Any time people are in an environment of art, everyone is more productive, more creative.”

– Beth Kamhi, Hyde Park Art Center artist

Kamhi designed several site-specific art pieces that would blend well with the overall industrial atmosphere of the Polsky Exchange. She wished that her arts at the Exchange can convey a sense of connectivity, and she thought that the presence of arts in an office space has a very positive influence on people, especially on entrepreneurs who are keen on seeking innovation.

“Any time people are in an environment of art, everyone is more productive, more creative,” said Kamhi. “They get rejuvenated when they see artworks. They can wonder a bit, which is a big part of brainstorming.”

The art installation at the Polsky Exchange stemmed from a long-term partnership between the Polsky Center Fabrication Lab (Fab Lab) and the Hyde Park Art Center. The Polsky Fab Lab is a makerspace located in the Polsky Exchange that offers Polsky members access to state-of-the-art equipment to create prototypes and translate their ideas into products. The partnership between the Fab Lab and the Hyde Park Art Center allows Polsky members to access resources and have discount classes at the art center, while artists and staff at the art center can also enjoy membership status at the Polsky Exchange and access the Fab Lab for their creative projects.

In addition, the Hyde Park Art Center also offers product photography, Adobe Photoshop, and Illustrator classes to Polsky members in order to develop skills that can meet product design and marketing needs in their entrepreneurial endeavors.

Hyde Park community gathers at the Polsky Exchange to celebrate Beth Kamhi’s displayed collection.

“Everyone (Polsky members) who hears about the partnership is excited about it,” said Elizabeth Koprucki, assistant director of Fab Lab and design at the Polsky Center. “The product photography classes have been very popular. I have heard very good things about how clear and accessible the instructor is.”

For artists at the Hyde Park Art Center, the makerspace at the Polsky Exchange is a pleasant addition to their art projects. Australian artist Tintin Wulia, a previous artist in residence at the art center, had nothing but compliments to say about the Fab Lab.

“I have worked with/in other hackspaces, so I can attest that Elizabeth Koprucki and her team have been most supportive. Elizabeth managed her space with such an openness that allowed my project to progress at its own pace. Elizabeth’s guidance has been critical and troubleshooting problems during my experiments.”  

Another sculpture by Beth Kamhi hanging in the Polsky Exchange

The partnership between the Polsky Exchange and the Hyde Park Art Center started three years ago when the art center was considering expanding its own space in the Hyde Park area. Upon knowing that the Polsky Exchange was establishing a Fab Lab, the art center and the Polsky Center decided to form a partnership to avoid duplicating resources and also offered a diverse makerspace experience to the Hyde Park community.

“Artists are entrepreneurs. That’s what we do,”

– Beth Kamhi

The art opening on Thursday also showcased the Polsky Exchange’s commitment to engage with the Hyde Park community. Moving forward, the Exchange and the Hyde Park Art Center plan to have similar art installation events every six months and to encourage more artists to utilize the Fab Lab for their art projects.

“We want to highlight the partnership and the way in which the Exchange connects with the community,” said Koprucki. “This is really a way to show how we are connected very closely with the rest of the Hyde Park community.”  

Artists that use the Fab Lab for their creative projects can be both an inspiration and a resource to Polsky members, according to Koprucki. Both Koprucki and Kamhi think that the Fab Lab embodies the duality of art as both a form of aesthetic expression and an entrepreneurial project.  

“Artists are entrepreneurs. That’s what we do,” said Kamhi. “We are our own innovators, and we create. The collaboration between the Polsky Center and the Hyde Park Art Center is an interesting opportunity for both parties to see what the others do.”  

Learn more about the Polsky Exchange and our Fab Lab.

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