Rockford Artist and Teacher Kyle Wolfe, ’05, Is Proud of His ‘Imaginary Friends’
By Eva Richards

kyle-wolfe-photo-2Kyle Wolfe, '05, works as an instructor at Roosevelt High School in Rockford and is a prolific artist in various media.

So, what if Kyle Wolfe has imaginary friends? He’s not ashamed of them.

As a Rockford-area artist, art instructor, and professional snow scultor, Wolfe has made a name for himself in the local art world. His latest exhibit, “Imaginary Friends" at the J. R. Kortman Center for Design in Rockford, Illinois, which ran from Oct. 14-Nov. 12,  showcased the work Wolfe has done in a variety of media, including paint, digital, found objects, short animations and videos. 

“I focused my subject matter on my love for nostalgia and childhood,” he said. “The toys and video game characters I loved so much were now all grown up in my mind and coming out in bizarre and creative ways.”

Growing up in Rockford, Wolfe was into comic books, action figures and video games. It was not long before he started trying to draw his favorite characters. As he grew older, drawing became an outlet for him, and his skills developed quickly. Before long, he was painting murals and getting paid for his work while in high school. 

“Coming from a working-class family, nobody knew how to advise me toward a career in the arts or college and, instead, I was pushed towards various types of trades to earn a living.” Wolfe said. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with art, just that I had to be involved with something related to it for me to be happy in life. So, I slowly entered post-secondary education and after a few years at Rock Valley College, I gathered the courage to take the leap towards NIU.”

Between his studies at community college and NIU, Wolfe studied graphic design, video production, sculpture, painting and other mediums for years before deciding on art education. 

“As I entered NIU’s art education program, I was at a point in my life where I was ready to get down to business. It turned out I had come to the right place,” Wolfe said. “Learning about teaching art was fascinating to me and the faculty at NIU were inspiring. By the end of the program, I was prepared and eager to change lives.” 

After NIU, Wolfe found work at Roosevelt High School in Rockford, an alternative high school for at-risk students.


"Imaginary Friends" at the J.R. Kortman Center for Design closed in November.

"I prefer to think of Roosevelt as a school that works. Honestly, all high schools should be like Roosevelt. The way we serve students here is unmatched across the district, and many students come to think of their teachers as family,” he said. “I am extremely fortunate to have stumbled upon this job back in 2007 and have no plans of leaving anytime soon. The students I have encountered here motivate me to be a better teacher, individual and artist.”

Still, as Wolfe grew as a teacher, he found it challenging to find time to be an artist, but he is diligent in making it a priority. His involvement in competitive snow scultping also increased in recent years. professional snow sculptor. He currently sculpts as one of the "Cave People From Space," a team that placed first in the Illinois State competition. Wolfe and his team will be sculpting nationally at a competition in Lake Geneva in early 2023.

“Today, I feel more so than ever that it is imperative to be an active artist while teaching,” he said. “I know it is hard to find the time, but find the time. I often share my passion for art with my students by creating at work or sharing work I have finished with them. This helps drive my student interest and validates my position from their perspective.”  

Through all his work, Wolfe remains inspired by the idea of expressing himself and sharing it with others.

“Learning to let go of control while in the creative process is something that I learned after many years of education and life experiences," he said. "I enjoy creating on a variety of objects and mediums I consider to be a reflection of that growth. In the end, the process of creating and sharing one’s art is what matters most to me.”