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Sharon Kilfoy
Grace Liu

Sharon Kilfoy, a local Madison artist and an alumna of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says most of the work she has accomplished in her life has included two things: art and kids.

Kilfoy founded the Williamson Street Art Center in 2003. The center mainly offers art classes and camps for kids, in addition to providing adult classes.

Kilfoy graduated from UW-Madison in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and then received a master’s degree in art a few years later.

A large part of her work involves working on murals with community members to benefit the community. She is often hired to work with at-risk students or through schools.

“Murals are a really good way to get people of varying skill levels involved in art,” she said. “They are visible, fun and they’re often educational.”

She has worked on murals for various groups around Madison. She recently completed one for the Humanities Building, which will be installed in the coming weeks with the help of UW-Madison students on the Wisconsin Union Directorate Art Committee. She has also completed several murals for the local Centro Hispano organization and during trips to Mexico, where she will return in February as part of an exchange program.

“My favorite part of my job is interacting with people, the variety of people, seeing people find creative talent in themselves they didn’t realize they had, seeing the joy they experience in being part of a collaborative experience that makes their contribution be relevant,” Kilfoy said.

A few years ago, Kilfoy started working at the Respite Center, an emergency crisis center for kids. There, she has helped develop a curriculum that uses art to build resiliency with at-risk children.

Ultimately, Kilfoy said though the generation of young people today face an “uncertain future,” she remains optimistic about the current generation’s potential because of her experiences working with them.

“I guess my over-riding message is stand strong, I trust you’ll leave a better place than how my generation has left it for you,” Kilfoy said. “In a way, in spite of how bad things are on so many levels, I’m hopeful and I think that’s because I work with young people.”

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