Forkenbrock Series on Public Policy


Lunch, Networking, and Gallery Viewing

EW Lehman Ballroom, hotelVetro, 201 S. Dubuque Street
Monday, October 9th, 2017 11:45 AM to 1:00 PM


  • Melissa Kreider

    Melissa Kreider

    University of Iowa Art and Art History Department

    Melissa Kreider (b. 1993) is an MFA student at the University of Iowa and holds a BFA in Photography from the University of Akron. Melissa’s work examines sites of sexual violence against women and how the justice system archives these reports as well as the evidence that is collected. Her work has been exhibited and published nationally and internationally. Melissa Kreider is a Graduate Teacher of Record at the University of Iowa, in the Art and Art History Department. She reads more books then she should and owns two cats; a hardened street cat named Asphalt, and a cat with thumbs named Valentino. Melissa is the founder and curator of Don’t Smile, an online space dedicated to showcasing photography by women artists.

  • Jessica Pleyel

    Jessica Pleyel

    Domestic Violence Intervention Program

    Jessica Pleyel is a conceptual artist, curator and advocate. Her work is an exploration of the powerful connections of family and communities, and art-based activism’s role within the intersectional feminist community. She investigates how connections between advocates, activists, family and communities form and how individual voices become empowered and brazened when brought together through collaboration. Pleyel explores these and further themes through an interdisciplinary approach of performance, sculpture, storytelling, installation and video. 


    Whether it is repairing and creating a strong relationship with her father, advocating alongside other sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, or searching for the legacy of her Cajun grandmother Beulah along with the five hundred others in the mass unmarked grave in post-Katrina New Orleans, an imperative aspect of Pleyel's work is igniting dialogues on some of the wicked complications in our society.  


    Pleyel's work has been exhibited internationally in galleries such as The Article Gallery in Birmingham, United Kingdom, The Beauty and Brawn Gallery in Chicago, Illinois, and Feast Arts Center in Tacoma, Washington. She has received awards such as the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, the Obermann Graduate Senior Fellowship, and the Ana Mendieta Memorial Scholarship. She is currently working at the Domestic Violence Intervention Program as a Shelter Services Coordinator.

  • Rachel Williams

    Rachel Williams

    UI School of Art & Art History, and Gender Women's and Sexuality Studies

    Rachel Marie-Crane Williams, is  an artist and teacher currently employed as an Associate Professor at the University of Iowa. She has a joint appointment between the School of Art and Art History (Intermedia) and Gender Women's and Sexuality Studies. She is originally from North Carolina (the Eastern Coastal Plain), but she has lived in Iowa since 1998, and taught at The University of Iowa since 1999. Her work as a researcher and creative scholar has always been focused on women’s issues, community, art, and people who are incarcerated. She earned a BFA in Painting and Drawing from East Carolina University and an MFA (Studio Art) and a Ph.D.(Art Education) from Florida State University.


    American alternative/single creator comics and graphic novels have been at the heart of her creative scholarship for the past few years. Her graphic scholarship has been published by the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, the Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education, and the International Journal of Comic Art. Her current projects include a graphic novel about the Detroit Race Riots of 1943, a mini comic about police brutality,and The Prison Chronicles, a series of stories about working in women's prisons.


    While Professor Williams is an artist she is also an academic scholar. Her traditional scholarship has been focused on women in prison. She has worked with incarcerated women since 1994. The prisons where she has conducted research include the Monroe County Jail in Key West, Florida, Jefferson Correctional Institution in Florida, Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Wisconsin, Deerlodge Correctional Institution in Montana, the State Training School in Eldora, Iowa, the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo, Iowa, the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, Iowa and HMP Holloway in London, England. She has visited and toured numerous other correctional institutions in the US. In 2010 she enrolled in the Inside-Out Prison Education Program through Temple University ( Her scholarship has been published by the Journal of Correctional Education, The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, the Journal of Art Education, and Visual Arts Research. She is also the Co-Editor of the Marilyn Zurmuehlen Working Papers.


    Professor Williams teaches courses about comics and sequential art, women's studies, intermedia, feminist research methods, and civic engagement.


    Her work can be explored at