UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
Art Department faculty and staff are listed in alphabetical order. Use the list menu (right) to quickly find a specific faculty or staff member.
Art Department Chair
Associate Professor of Art (Glass)
Lecturer (Art Education)
Office: 215 KFA
Assistant Professor of Art (Ceramics)
Office: 218 KFA
Mike Helke is an Assistant Professor of Art, Ceramics Program Director. Helke grew up in Minnesota's St. Croix Valley where he still resides with his wife and two sons in Stillwater, MN. Since receiving an MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University-Alfred, NY in 2011 he has taught at various institutions including Carleton College, Northfield MN, the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and previous appointments at UWRF. In addition to family and teaching, Helke maintains a full-time studio practice in his own ceramics studio. This practice/research has been exhibited, presented, and published all over the country at organizations including but not limited to Harvard University, Boston, MA, the Anderson Ranch Art Center, Snowmass Village, CO, the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, OR, and The Weismen Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN. Helke is a two-time Carleton College Dayton Hudson Distinguished Teacher/Artist recipient and has received grant awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board as well as the Jerome Foundation.
Associate Professor of Art (Photography)
Brett Kallusky was born in St. Paul and received his BFA from UWRF in 1998 (photography/printmaking) and his MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2005. He has had recent exhibitions of his photographs at UWRF, Bethel University, and the Italian Cultural Center in Minneapolis. Brett was the 2005/06 recipient of the Miguel Vinciguerra Fulbright Fellowship to work on a photographic project entitled Viaggio con Le Viste, in Italy. In 2010 he received a Minnesota State Arts Board Initiative Grant to continue his photographic explorations in Italy. Prior to teaching at UW-River Falls, Brett was a full-time faculty member in the photography department at Ai Minnesota in Minneapolis, and an adjunct faculty member at Oakland Community College in Royal Oak, Mich. Brett lives in Minneapolis with his wife, two cats, and one dog.
Senior Lecturer (Painting)
Ms. Jeannine Spooner Kitzhaber teaches painting and drawing classes at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and brings a considerable amount of energy, experience and compassion to her teaching. Ms. Kitzhaber is an artist, educator and curator from the Twin Cities. She earned a BFA and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where she also studied art history and English. A first-generation college graduate, Ms. Kitzhaber considers herself a lifetime learner. She furthered her education after graduate school by studying Japanese culture, screen, lithography and mono-printmaking processes and digital drawing and painting.
In 2013-14, Ms. Kitzhaber was awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant to create 12 map-based artworks. She has exhibited her work in regional, national and international venues. In addition, she has received grants for travel, mentorship and course redesign at UWRF. An award-winning artist, Ms. Kitzhaber has a studio in the Northrup King Building in NE Minneapolis. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and their two rescue dogs. Two of her three daughters are UWRF alumni in Art/Psychology and Social Work.
Lecturer (Art Therapy)
Ann E. Lawton is an artist, registered art therapist, and art educator. Ann is a mixed media fine artist with formal training in printmaking and photography. The artist finds that the application of paper, drawing, and paint forgiving; allowing her to add and subtract elements as necessary to investigate the essence of everyday experiences and circumstances. Visual expression and the process of art making allows the perspective to transform random, seemingly meaningless events into contemplated moments of significance.
Since 2011, Ann has been an art therapist and has worked with a variety of populations in the St. Croix Valley of Western Wisconsin and Minnesota. Her clinical work is diverse in populations, which include clients living respectively with depression, anxiety, addiction, and trauma. Regardless of the specific therapeutic needs, Ann has been witness to the power of art therapy through working with clients and providing them with the opportunity to participate in the innate life force of healing through creativity. She currently facilitates art therapy groups at Brittany’s Place, a shelter for girls aged 10-17 who have been commercially trafficked or solicited.
Ann has taught in the art department at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls since 2011. She teaches classes such as Design Foundations, Drawing, Introduction to Art Therapy, and Senior Honors Seminar. She was awarded the 2018 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching at UWRF. Ann received her Bachelor’s Degree in broad area art with a minor in psychology from UW-River Falls in 2008 and her Master’s of Science in art therapy from Mount Mary University, Milwaukee in 2011.
Associate Lecturer (Glass)
Office: B89 KFA
Professor of Art (Graphic Design)
Office: 230 KFA
Dan Paulus brings extensive practical experience and theory to the classroom. He also continues to practice graphic design through his studio, Foci Creative. As a graphic designer and educator, Dan considers himself a determined problem solver and someone who enjoys a challenge. Design is his way to organize and clean up a cluttered environment. Solutions to communication problems become the goals that drive the decisions which influence his work. His research interests include how design can influence consumer debt, design student motivation, assessment-moving away from the letter grade, and infusing design into high school curriculum. Dan has also been involved with AIGA, the professional association for design, for over 10 years in Utah, Oklahoma, and now in Minnesota. AIGA has provided opportunities to get involved and stay connected to the design community. Dan believes that all these combined experiences encourages a more holistic classroom experience.
Associate Lecturer (Drawing)
Office: 228 KFA
Visual artist and educator Alex M. Petersen is inspired by relationships of technology, gender and sexuality, and mythology. With a research based, aesthetically engaged career, he currently balances being a full-time educator with a robust studio practice. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally with a recent solo exhibition at SooVAC in Minneapolis, MN in 2018. In 2019 he was commissioned to create a large-scale painting for Queer Forms at the University of Minnesota, an exhibition marking 50 years of LGBT+ activism and representation in visual media. He received his BFA from the University of Northern Iowa in 2011 and his MFA in 2017 from the University of Minnesota. In 2016 he was a recipient of the summer research and residency program at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland. He currently works and resides in River Falls, WI.
Associate Lecturer (Printmaking)
Office: B87 KFA
Professor of Art (Art History)
Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning
Office: 217 KFA
Kaylee R. Spencer is an associate professor of art at UWRF where she has taught Art History since 2006. She served as department chair from 2013–2016 and has received awards for distinguished teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences. She offers introductory surveys of art history, along with upper-division courses on pre-Columbian, colonial New World, and contemporary art. Kaylee's research centers on the artistic traditions of ancient Mesoamerica. She has published numerous articles and book chapters focusing on Maya spirituality, art, and iconography. She combines approaches rooted in iconography, archaeology, hieroglyphic analysis, and phenomonology to investigate portraiture in ancient and colonial sculpture. In her recent work, she explores how spatial organizations of architectural programs frame viewing experiences at Maya sites in the Northern Lowlands, a region located in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. more
Academic Department Associate
Office: 172 KFA
Susan Zimmer, academic department associate, has worked for the Art Department for 15 years. She is an integral member of the department providing information on budget, class schedules, and student contact, as well as office support. Susan also maintains Gallery 101 working with the art faculty, staff and visiting artists to ensure the professionalism required for a formal art gallery.