Upper Iowa University Associate Professor of Education/Master of Education Chair Dr. Billie Cowley ’03, ’08, and Associate Professor of Art/McCosh Professor of Fine Arts Elissa Wenthe will present a pair of lectures at Upper Iowa University’s Fayette Campus on Thursday, January 17. The free public presentations are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the UIU Liberal Arts Auditorium.
Cowley, who is also a mental health first aid (MHFA) trainer, will present “Mental Illnesses and the Overlap of Trauma Informed Care.” The UIU professor’s presentation will discuss what trauma is, risk factors and protective factors related to mental illnesses, and possible strategies to use when working with an individual who has experienced trauma.
Cowley’s experience includes working with individuals with disabilities and her current research and scholarship focuses on trauma’s impact on adolescents. As a mental health first aid instructor, she has learned that trauma is one of the most powerful risk factors in developing mental health disorders.
Cowley earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and endorsements in special education, reading, and middle school, and a master’s degree in instructional classroom leadership at UIU. Her doctoral work was in special education from the University of Northern Iowa. She and her husband, Matthew, reside in Fayette with their four children.
A botanical landscape sculptor, Wenthe will present a lecture on her past and current bodies of artwork. Wenthe’s sculptural language is formed by surrounding landscapes and nature, while engaging themes of memories, identity and place. The materials she chooses are easily manipulated. She works quickly and spontaneously, responding to clay, fabric or natural materials to create a new form.
“I want my work to suspend one’s imagination into a different time or place creating works inspired by natural beauty and unknown forms,” Wenthe said. “I work with rhythms and patterns found in nature, as well as the missteps and irregularities caused by decay, wilt, dormancy, and death.”
Wenthe earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She has taught ceramics and sculpture at Upper Iowa University since 2008. Wenthe has exhibited her artwork in solo and small group shows throughout the United States for many years. She has been a resident artist at Sculpture Space in Utica, New York, and Jentel Foundation in Sheridan, Wyoming. Elissa and her husband, Andrew, reside in Fayette with their four children.