Emida Roller is a Madison-based muralist and arts educator and the founder of Wall Designs by Emida, LLC. She was born in New York City, grew up in Nigeria, and was mentored by her father, renowned artist Solomon Irein Wangboje. Emida studied at the University of Benin before returning to the US to obtain her MFA and MA from the University of Illinois.
Today, Emida runs Wall Designs by Emida, specializing in creating custom mural paintings, faux finishes and decorative painting tailored to clients' style and taste. She also brings her classroom experience as an art teacher. Emida currently is a lead artist at DAMA
Came onboard in 2014
Alicia Rheal, a native of New York, has been painting professionally since 1986 when she created her company Rheal Imagination. At the start, the business specialized in painting custom designs on clothing, until 1989, when Alicia started painting backdrops and sets for opera, ballet, television and theater. Since then, Alicia has continued to work as a Scenic Artist for theater, as well as move into the world of Custom Murals and Collaborative Art.
In Wisconsin, she has designed and painted murals for homeowners and businesses, including the Prairie Bookshop in Mt. Horeb, the Iowa County Chamber of Commerce, the Cross Plains Public Library, and EPIC Systems Corporation in Verona. Alicia has also initiated and led many community art projects, including ones for the Walls Of Wittenberg, Grandview and the PEC Foundation, and Folklore Village.
Came onboard in 2014
Jenie Gao is an artist, curator, and entrepreneur. Jenie uses her work to tell the stories of challenges and opportunities we face today and to connect the health of the world’s ecosystems with human relationships. She creates fine artwork, murals, and public installations for people who believe in the power of art to transform the spaces we share. Before building her business, Jenie Gao Studio, Jenie worked in both for-profit and nonprofit, in the arts, education, and lean manufacturing. Her background has fueled her belief in different groups working with and learning from one another. She believes in creative people becoming leaders of societal change, and uses her organizational experience to advocate for and advance this vision.
Jenie has been the artist-in-residence at Proyecto ´ace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Museo de Arte Moderno in Castro, Chile, and the Bubbler at Madison Central Library. Her work has been shown and collected in the US, UK, Argentina, Australia, and more. In Wisconsin, she has worked with organizations including Planned Parenthood, Promega, and Dane Arts Mural Arts. She also serves as a curator at Arts + Literature Laboratory and a committee member on the Madison Arts Commission.
Came onboard in 2017
Sonya Sankaran is an ecologist who uses art as a tool for environmental education and to promote wellness for kids of all ages. With DAMA, Sonya works in mural design and production while also strengthening relationships with schools and other partner organizations. She is focused on understanding the strong relationship between art and both environmental and human health. She is working with Public Health of Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) and other partners to employ metrics that demonstrate DAMA's impact on human health and environmental stewardship.
Prior to working with DAMA, Sonya worked in Costa Rica using mural art to teach about rainforest ecosystems, and in India creating print materials that depicted marine conservation laws to artisanal fishing communities. Later, Sonya was at the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a Senior Bilingual Education Specialist, using her background as an ecologist, interpreter, and artist to lead high school students in completing field studies in nearshore habitats of the Monterey Bay. After moving back to Madison in 2014, she coordinated Public Health of Madison and Dane County's Children and Nature Initiative to integrate nature into the play and learning strategies of preschools that serve low-income children. In addition to her work with DAMA, Sonya continues to work as a consultant in the development of nature-based curriculum and infrastructure at schools with the goals of improving mental, physical and behavioral health as well as academics.
Sonya holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology from the University of San Diego, California and a master's degree in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.
Came onboard in 2017
Amy Zaremba is lucky to work as an artist in Madison, WI. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new and share a love of art with others. Painting, drawing, collage, even just appreciating the beauty that surrounds us are ways to cope with the stresses and demands of our daily lives. Amy was coping in non-creative career choices before finally picking up a brush for a living. The decision to follow a dream comes with a great awareness of the power art has to enrich our lives. Her work in paint, chalk and murals reflects on the beauty and small joys we can find in the everyday when we take the time to look.
The challenges and joys of collaboration led her to mural work, and with DAMA she found a way to engage others throughout the process of creation. Public art is powerful when created by an individual artist but that power is dramatically enhanced though youth and community involvement.
Amy spent her childhood enjoying the lakes and woods of northern Wisconsin, but Madison has long been home. Amy creates and sells her own artwork and takes commissions as Zaremba Art LLC. She has a bachelors in Art and English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a J.D. from DePaul College of Law.
Came onboard in 2017
Sharon Kilfoy, Director of the Williamson Street Art Center, is a local artist whose murals, fabric pieces, collages and assemblages are widely collected. Sharon has extensive experience teaching art to people of all ages and abilities. She has been a guest artist through numerous artist-in-residency programs in schools, neighborhood centers and communities throughout the Midwest and now in Mexico. Her background as a community artist combined with her formal training as a studio artist ensures that students have fun while they learn. Sharon specializes in bringing divergent people together through community art projects which focus on shared aspects of history and culture. In the classroom setting, she utilizes an endless variety of materials in a curriculum she has developed to bring out students’ innate artistic capabilities while they build confidence.
Sharon’s reputation as an art instructor is proven and respected. For more than 20 years she used art to build resiliency in troubled children at the Respite Center, a 24-hour emergency/crisis child care center in Madison Wisconsin. There, she developed a curriculum that uses art to help children recover from trauma. Sharon uses the knowledge she gained using art with troubled children, to ensure that all people who work with her experience art in a positive way.
Mark Fraire has worked as an arts administrator for over 20 years and has been involved in supporting theater arts on every level from producer to writer to actor to comic to playwright to manager to director. He was the Grants and Fund Development Director for the Madison Metropolitan School District and helped raise in 2013-14, over $2 million in funds. Fraire spent 17 years as the state’s Grants Officer for the Wisconsin Arts Board.
Prior to that position, Fraire created the Community Education Department for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater where he was awarded the President’s Coming Up Taller Award for creating TEENworks, an innovative youth and community theater arts training program. Fraire has an MBA in Corporate Finance from the University of Wisconsin- Madison.
Neil Lerner - President
UW Associate Director
WI Small Business Dev Centers
President - The Ritcherson Companies
Instructor - East West Healing Arts Institute
Director - Economic Empowerment & Entrepreneurship
Vital Voices Global Partnership, Co-Founder - Synergy Co-Working
Community/ State/National Political Organizer/Fundraiser
UW – WAA Director of Diversity
Security Officer – UW Hospital
Jessie (Smiley) Nunez
Security Officer – Meriter Hospital