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Barbara Waterman-Peters

Artist Barbara Waterman-Peters spoke about her experience at Washburn during Wake Up With Washburn.

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Renowned artist says Washburn 'best thing that happened to me'

Barbara Waterman-Peters, President Farley and Glenda Taylor

By Ernie W. Webb III |

How much did her experience at Washburn impact renowned Topeka artist Barbara Waterman-Peters? Enough that she described it as “the best thing that ever happened to me” during the April 10 Wake Up With Washburn at Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center.

“My parents said, ‘You are going to Washburn because that’s all we can afford,’” said Waterman-Peters, the owner of Studio 831 in the North Topeka artist district (NOTO). “Now, imagine being 17 years old and having one choice. Well, I ended up getting a wonderful education here.”

Though she was born in Topeka, Waterman-Peters attended high school in New Mexico. She enjoyed going to Washburn so much that she ultimately settled in Topeka and has been an integral figure for decades in the arts community.

Since receiving a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1973, Waterman-Peters has been a featured artist in dozens of venues and was one of the co-founders of the Collective Art Gallery in Topeka. Her work has been displayed throughout the United States and in galleries across the globe, including Italy and China.

“I’ve done everything I wanted to as an artist, and I could not have asked for a better experience,” she said. “I’ve met so many people, people with such wonderful stories.”

Waterman-Peters, who also received a master of fine arts from Kansas State, worked as an instructor in the art department at both of her alma maters. She continues to visit classrooms and speak to Washburn students.

“I’ve had the opportunity to make a difference with students, and in the cultural life in Topeka,” she said. “I’ve really had everything I hoped for when I decided to become an artist.”

Waterman-Peters has made a significant impact in the flourishing NOTO district, first as a member of the board of directors and now as a core artist. She was the first artist to open a studio, Studio 831, in the district. The studio now features her work, as well as that of seven other artists.

Her focus for about 20 years has been a series of paintings on women, many of which she displayed and discussed during her presentation, “I’m Glad I Stayed!” You can view many of the paintings on Waterman-Peters’ website.

Waterman-Peters is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and NoNoSo. She met her husband, Larry Peters, bfa ’62, while a student at Washburn.

In conjunction with the School of Business, the Alumni Association has sponsored Washburn Up With Washburn since 1993. Waterman-Peters’ presentation was the final lecture of the 2013-14 academic year.