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ArtHaus Instructors & Staff

Shannon Dallenbach Durbin


Shannon is originally from Arlington, IA and has lived the last 10 years in Elkader.  She holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Art Education from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.  Shannon has taught high school art, directed junior high and high school theater, and has been the Program Coordinator at the ISU Extension and Outreach for Clayton County for the last 4 years.  Shannon is the wife to illustrator, Bryce Durbi, and the mother of Lincoln (7) and Felix (3).

Nick Chill


Nick picked up his first camera while serving in the US Navy in San Diego, California. Inspired by the vistas of Grand Canyon National Park, Nick dedicated the rest of his life to bringing the beauty of life to those too busy to enjoy it for themselves. Having a natural competency for mechanics and technology, Nick quickly taught himself manual photography and began selling his work early on. He eventually discovered a new way to achieve his mission, by teaching others to see and share life’s beauty. Through 2012 and 2013, Nick taught photography classes as well as destination landscape photography workshops, around the Southwest. Wanting to continue expanding his own skills, he returned to school to earn two degrees in photography. Shortly after moving to Decorah in early 2014, to be with his (now) wife, Nick began a new branch of his business focused on weddings and portraiture.

Kelly Dawson

Administrative Assistant

Kelly Dawson is a senior at Luther College, majoring in biology and dance with the intent of pursuing a career in creative arts therapy, more specifically dance/movement therapy. Her interest in this field stems from the Movement Fundamentals Program at Luther and the premise that the mind, body, and spirit are interconnected. Kelly has worked as a teaching assistant with cooperation of Andrea Vasquez Aguirre Kaufmann and has performed in collaborative productions including Trust Me, The Invitation Game, & Body of Water. She has also conducted her own research regarding the perceived meaning of movement in the post-modern dance era. Kelly is very excited to be a part of the ArtHaus organization and looks forward to working with the community of Decorah.

Lea Donhowe Lovelace

Instructor, Co-founder of ArtHaus

Lea Donhowe Lovelace

A Decorah native and a Luther College graduate, Lea has worked in the field of Art Education for over a decade. She has worn various hats including that of a teaching artist working with diverse populations of varied ages; a program director for a not-for-profit community art school; the manager of teacher programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; and an independent contractor/consultant, connecting diverse audience members to museum exhibitions. Lea has her MA in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2007 she moved back to Decorah with her family, a mere two-block commute from ArtHaus which she co-founded with Kristen Underwood in 2008. In addition to her ArtHaus responsibilities, Lovelace also serves as visiting faculty at Luther College teaching Art Education courses through the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

Mykal Finch


Originally from Montana, Mykal has lived in the Decorah area since 2013. Mykal has always had a passion for music and began playing the violin at age 12. Mykal studied Special Education and Business at Northwest Missouri State University and is now a sales associate and the Studio Coordinator at West Music Decorah. Mykal also owns her own business teaching music lessons, performing at events, and developing music and arts classes for children. Mykal now resides in Cresco with her fiancé and their 3 year old son, Cai.

Madeline Geier


Madeline is a senior at Luther College studying theatre and writing. She has loved spending her summers doing children’s theatre, teaching and directing at Deegan Children’s Theatre in 2015 and assistant directing the Theatre Arts Training Senior Intensive at Children’s Theatre Company in 2016. Madeline is thrilled to have the opportunity to be teaching at ArtHaus and is looking forward to becoming more involved in the Decorah community. Her favorite part of doing theatre with kids is witnessing how their confidence increases and personalities shine when they are empowered to be expressive and imaginative.

Martha Hall

Arts Management Intern

Martha Hall

Martha is a junior at Luther College, where she is an Art Major and Management Minor. Originally from Cedar Falls, Iowa, she is passionate about art and enjoys exploring the creative process. After graduating, she hopes to mix entrepreneurship and art.

Lisa Lantz


Lisa Lantz has been an associate professor of theatre and costume designer in the Visual and Performing Arts department since 2006, focusing on the topics of costume construction, stage makeup, design, theatre history, and digital rendering. Her current research is in wearable technology and makerspace pedagogical models. Lisa came to Luther from Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland where she taught and designed for four years. Lisa received her BA in Theatre from University of Northern Iowa and her MFA in Costume Design and Technology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She has worked in theatre, dance and opera with companies and schools such as Commonweal Theatre Company, McLeod Summer Playhouse, Papermill Theatre, AGA Collaborative, Pensacola Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, St. Mary’s University, and University of West Florida.

Eric Nels Petersen-Brant


Eric is originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology, with an emphasis on Geomorphology and the environment. Largely a self-taught artist, he returned to academia for additional post-graduate training in ceramic processes and techniques at schools in New Mexico, Utah, Nebraska, and Missouri. He has extensive teaching experience in ceramics, painting, design, and sculpture with all age groups in a variety of settings. As a studio assistant to artist and educator Eddie Dominguez over several years, Eric created small and large scale sculptural works for sale, exhibition, and for public art projects. His own work examines the relationship of the individual to the forms and processes of the natural world manifested through the mediums of drawing, painting, clay, and printmaking.

Jenni Petersen-Brant


Born and raised in southwest Wisconsin on a dairy farm, Jenni recently relocated to Decorah with her husband, Eric Nels Petersen-Brant. For the last ten years she has been living in eastern Nebraska, initially pursuing an MFA in Ceramics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln followed by a career as a studio artist and the Education Director at LUX Center for the Arts. In 2010, she become the Executive Director of the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, an artist residency program for visual artists, writers, and composers from across the country and around the world. Throughout, Jenni has maintained an active studio practice creating handmade functional pottery which is sold at venues throughout the United States. She travels often teaching clay-based workshops and presenting lectures on professional practices in the arts.


Tara Quass

Assistant Director

Tara lives in Decorah with her 2 children and travels as a photo stylist working with clients in Minnesota, California, Canada, Texas, Wisconsin and Iowa.  She specializes in on-camera make-up for Print, TV and Web and also photographs actors, musicians, professionals and seniors for promotional headshots.  Her degree is in Journalism/Mass Comm. from the University of Iowa.  Tara brings her commitment to the arts to the opportunity that ArtHaus provides to the Driftless Region.

Kristen Underwood

Instructor, Director of Upstart Crow Theatreworks, Co-founder of ArtHaus

Kristen Underwood

Kristen Underwood has been a theatre professional for the past twenty-five years. She earned her BFA from the University of Colorado/Boulder, and her MFA from San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre. As an actor and director, Kristen has been involved in over one hundred professional productions for companies around the country, in addition to teaching theatre for CU/Boulder and Luther College, among others. After ten years as a managing Core Artist/Education Director for the Commonweal Theatre, Kristen founded Upstart Crow Theatreworks in 2002 and ArtHaus in 2008.

Steffenee Voigt

Education Intern

Steffenee is a sophomore studying Art, Art Education and Museum Studies at Luther College. She also happens to be from this wonderful small town we call home, Decorah, Iowa. She loves everything about art; whether it be art history and learning about the Italian Renaissance or experimenting with different drawing techniques and mediums, her love is learning. She aspires to teach future generations to appreciate and enjoy all that art and the process of creating things by hand has to offer.