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Springfield Artist Wins AARP Illinois Disrupt Disparities Art Contest

Robert Wayne Fox

AARP Illinois recently ran a contest calling on artists across Illinois to create art around the theme of “disrupting disparities.” The theme comes from AARP Illinois’ multiyear “Disrupt Disparities” initiative, which aims to identify challenges and policy solutions for older adults of color across the state. “Clean Justice” by Springfield- based painter and potter, Wilma Wofford, was selected as the winner of the contest.

“When I create art, it usually hits on a lot of themes at once because the world is complex in that way. When I was creating this piece, I was thinking about the disparities that exist for so many communities of color in this country – for example, this piece in particular touches on themes of racism, poverty and environmental injustice as they relate to the African American, Asian American and Native American communities.”

Wilma Wofford Headshot
Wilma Wofford

Growing up in Carbondale, Illinois, Wofford recalls learning to read at a young age and reading all of the newspapers and magazines she could get her hands on. Born into a poor, but fiercely religious, family who taught her that everyone should be treated equally, she remembers being very confused when reading the headlines about the injustice and inequality faced by African Americans like herself. Now, Wofford puts a lot of her own lived experiences into her artwork.

“I think everyone is an artist in their own way, and it’s just about tuning in to what’s in your soul and expressing that through art,” says Wofford. “In my art, it’s what’s in my soul that I paint or mold into my ceramics.”

Wofford didn’t start making art until after she retired and enrolled in art courses at Lincoln Land Community College, and she says she owes her success to her talented instructors.

“I got started a bit late, so now I just want to make all the art I can make while I’m on this Earth.”

AARP Illinois would also like to honor the artists who submitted remarkable art to this contest, namely Tahira Brooks, Austin Wells and John T. Crisp.

To learn more about how AARP Illinois’ Disrupt Disparities Campaign, visit

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