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Artists In Iowa Symposium Speaker Bios

Dr. Jeff Bremer, Associate Professor, History Department, Iowa State University

Jeff Bremer is associate professor of history at ISU, where he teaches Iowa history.  He is writing A New History of Iowa, 1673-2020, an updated narrative history of the state. He is a specialist in the early American republic (1776-1861), with an interest in the social and economic history of the American Midwest. In 2014 the University of Iowa Press published his book A Store Almost in Sight: The Economic Transformation of Missouri From the Louisiana Purchase to the Civil War. He has published articles in Kansas History, Annals of Iowa, The Missouri Historical Review, and The Southern California Quarterly and contributed chapters to The Routledge History of Rural America, as well as Southern Society and Its Transformations, 1790-1860. A former history teacher, Dr. Bremer helps coordinate ISU’s history and social studies program. He also teaches methods courses and supervise student teachers.


Dr. Sebastian Braun, Director of American Indian Studies, Iowa State University

Sebastian Braun became Director of American Indian Studies at ISU in 2015; he was previously chair of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of North Dakota. Earned a Lic.phil.I in Ethnology, History, and Philosophy from the University of Basel, and a MA and PhD in Anthropology (minor Folklore) from Indiana University. Among other publications, Braun is the author of Buffalo Inc. American Indians and Economic Development and editor of Transforming Ethnohistories. Narrative, Meaning, and Community. He has been writing for the International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) since 2004 and is a co-founder of the American Indian Studies - Great Plains Consortium. His current interests lie in the impacts of the Bakken oil boom, and a comparative analysis of natural resource extraction in rural communities.


Johnathan L. Buffalo, Historic Preservation Director, Meskwaki Museum and Cultural Center, Tama, Iowa

Born and raised on the Meskwaki Indian Settlement, Johnathan L. Buffalo graduated from the University of Iowa in 1981.  He was designated the Historic Preservation Director for the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, or Meskwaki Nation, in 1993. His main duties are focused on the successful implementation of NAGPRA, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and other federal laws concerning Native American historical interests, including the 106 Process.  During the course of his work, he deals with over 200 museums across the country, various state agencies in the most of the states across the country, federal agencies including BIA, EPA, IHS, BLM, NPS, NFS, and USDA, and individual local towns, cities and counties too numerous to count. He also serves as Director of the Tribal museum on the Meskwaki Indian Settlement, located in Tama County, Iowa, and the museum houses the largest number of Meskwaki items and artifacts in the world.  Johnathan is co-author of a Meskwaki History CD, along with Dawn Suzanne Wanatee Buffalo, also from the Tribe, and Mary Bennett, Special Collections Coordinator at the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City. The CD, a collaborative project of the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Meskwaki Nation, contained primary source materials on the history, culture and art of the Tribe, and received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History.


Dr. C. Lee Burras, Professor of Agronomy, Iowa State University

Lee Burras is from a large family that has farmed in Humboldt and Wright Counties, Iowa, since the 1870’s and in the broader USA since before the American Revolution. His father’s grandparents, following their arrival from Norway homesteaded native prairie 10 miles from his childhood home. His mother’s family immigrated from the UK in the 1700’s, where they initially  farmed in the Colony of  Virginia  and then progressively immigrated to farms in eastern Ohio, northern Missouri and finally southern Iowa.  His 90 year old mother remains a very proud member in the DAR. Lee’s degrees are B.S. in Agronomy and M.S. in Soil Science from Iowa State University and Ph.D. in Agronomy/Soil Science from The Ohio State University. Prior to joining the ISU faculty in 1995, he was on the faculty of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Lee’s research examines the natural formation and productivity of soils and how long-term farming is changing those soils.    


Dr. Joni L. Kinsey, Professor of American Art, University of Iowa School of Art and Art History

Joni L. Kinsey received her Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1989 and joined the faculty of the University of Iowa in 1991.  Her courses include surveys of visual culture in the United States to courses on American landscape painting, prints, art of the National Parks, regional imagery, and museum theory and practice.  Her research focuses on landscape, especially of the American West and Midwest, but has also included dealt with nineteenth-century popular prints and Midwestern women artists.  She is the author of four books, Thomas Moran and the Surveying of the American West (Smithsonian, 1992); Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie (Smithsonian, 1996); The Majestic Grand Canyon: 150 Years in Art (First Glance Books, 1998), and Thomas Moran’s West: Chromolithography, High Art, and Popular Taste (Kansas, 2006), and numerous articles and book chapters.  In 2014 Professor Kinsey was a Fulbright Fellow in the UK, researching a book, Thomas Moran’s Britain: Transatlantic Visions of “The American Turner.”  Recent presentations have included “Modernism at a Midwestern Crossroads: The Fateful Relationship of Grant Wood, Lester Longman, and H. W. Janson,” (University of Nottingham, England), “Art’s Historic Role in American Environmental Conservation” (Herbert Hoover National Historic Site), and “Thomas Moran’s Art, National Parks, and the Conservation Movement” (Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY).      

Professor Kinsey is also curator of the Eve Drewelowe Collection, a remarkable corpus of hundreds of paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and personal effects bequeathed the collection to the UI School of Art & Art History in the late 1980s.  Drewelowe received the first M.A. in painting at the university in 1924 and her collection is a remarkably broad and rich representation of modern art and the issues that affected women artists in the twentieth century.  


Maura Lyons, Professor of Art History, Drake University

Maura Lyons is professor of art history at Drake University. She is the author of William Dunlap and the Construction of an American Art History (University of Massachusetts Press, 2005). She has also published essays on the symbolism of landscape imagery from the U.S. Civil War in American Art, Public Art Dialogue, Panorama, and Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. In 2013 she co-curated Draw Your Weapons! Civil War Cartoons from Harper’s Weekly with Drake students. She has also organized two exhibitions at the Anderson Gallery about the architectural legacy of Drake’s campus.



Dr. Lea Rosson DeLong, Guest Curator and Art Historian

Lea Rosson DeLong received her B.A. from the University of Oklahoma and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. In addition to contemporary art, she has concentrated on American art of the Depression era, curating exhibitions and writing about the southwestern painter Alexandre Hogue and about New Deal art of the Midwest. With Gregg Narber, she co-authored a catalogue of New Deal murals in the state of Iowa. She has written catalogues and curated exhibitions about Iowa State University’s Christian Petersen, the nation’s first permanent campus artist-in-residence. In 2000, DeLong curated the retrospective exhibition, Christian Petersen, Sculptor, at the Brunnier Art Museum and was the primary author of the exhibition publication. In 2003, she curated a major exhibition at the Brunnier Art Museum of Grant Wood’s drawings for Sinclair Lewis’ Main Streetand was primary essayist for the book Grant Wood’s Main Street. In 2006, DeLong curated the exhibition When Tillage Begins, Other Arts Follow: Grant Wood and Christian Petersen Muralsat the Brunnier Art Museum and was the primary author for the exhibition publication. In 2007, DeLong curated the inaugural exhibition Christian Petersen: Urban Artist, 1900-1934and authored the accompanying publication for the opening of the Christian Petersen Art Museum. She currently serves as guest curator for University Museums at Iowa State University and continues her research on Iowa’s artists, Depression-era artists and contemporary art.


Jerome Thompson, retired State of Iowa Curator (1978-2015)

Jerome Thompson retired in 2015 after serving thirty-three years with the State Historical Society of Iowa.  During his tenure he served in various capacities including Historic Sites Administrator, Museum Bureau Chief, and State Curator.  He also served as acting Administrator twice, acting State Historic Preservation Officer, and acting State Archivist.  Prior to his employment with SHSI he was the first Site Coordinator at Terrace Hill from 1978-1982. He has a B.A. in Anthropology from Iowa State University and an M.A. in Museum Science from Texas Tech University.

Thompson is a past president and board member of the Iowa Museum Association and served on the board of the Iowa Preservation and Conservation Consortium.  He served on the Advisory Committee to the Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist and the Advisory Board of the University Museums at Iowa State.  He has been recognized with the Allen Hutchings Visionary Award from Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, an Award of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History, Preservationist of the Year in 2015 by Preservation Iowa and the 2018 Leadership Award from the Iowa Museum Association.


Dawn Suzanne Wanatee Buffalo, co-author of the Meskwaki History CD

Dawn Suzanne (Wanatee) Buffalo is a member of the Meskwaki Tribe and lives on the Meskwaki Indian Settlement.  Suzanne began working in the Tribe’s Clerk of Court’s office in 2007, shortly after the Court began. She has also worked in the Meskwaki Nation Child Support Services office.  

Suzanne has served on the Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist’s Indian Advisory Council since 2014, and on the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa since 2015.

Originally from the Settlement, she later lived in the American West for a while where she received an Office Administration Certificate from the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe Adult Vocational Program in Las Vegas, Nevada, and then worked in advertising and public relations in Las Vegas.  After returning home to Iowa, she worked in many roles in Tribal Government before Tribal Court.

She has co-authored a nationally recognized and award winning CD regarding Meskwaki History along with her husband Johnathan L. Buffalo, Meskwaki Historical Preservation Director.  Suzanne previously served on the Iowa Commission on Native American Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

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