Interpreting drama through art

Artwork for the 2007 production of “I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given To Me By a Young Lady from Rwanda”

Sarah Madl

Barbara Waterman-Peters is a woman with many facets. She is a painter, former teacher, writer, juror at various art shows and a patron of the arts.

“It’s great that an artist can support other artists and not have that rivalry,” said Paul Prece, chair of the Washburn University theatre department. “Barbara looks for what she can learn from what other artists make.”

Waterman-Peters’ passion for art dates back to childhood.

“From little tiny on up, I was coloring,” said Waterman-Peters. “It was a part of my childhood that was consistent and comfortable, almost magical.”

Not only does her passion for art go way back but her ties to Washburn University do so as well. Waterman-Peters earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Washburn in 1973. She came back to Washburn in 1985 and taught off and on as an adjunct.

“I loved teaching, I could really ham it up,” said Waterman-Peters.

Over the years, she has maintained a great love for Washburn University.

“I was thrilled to have gone here even after I graduated. I received a wonderful education,” said Waterman-Peters.

Waterman-Peters has always been involved with the visual arts for Andrew J. and Georgia Neese Gray Theatre. For each production, she is given a script and then asked to do a painting of her interpretation. The painting she creates will then be used in most of the publicity for that particular production.

“It’s exciting to see the first glimpse of her interpretation,” said Lynn Wilson, facilities and systems technician for the Washburn University theatre department.

Outside of her work for Washburn University, Waterman-Peters is a charter member of the Collective Art Guild where she and many other artists show and sell their work privately. Her volunteer work is art-oriented and ranges from teaching classes at the Mulvane Art Museum to sitting on boards for various art organizations and museums.

One largely recurring theme Waterman-Peters has dealt with throughout her work is women and their role in society. For the past 15 years, she has been working on a series of paintings universally themed around women. Her aim with this series is for women to question the roles they play within the world.

“This is why so many of the females I depict in my paintings are really masked figures,” said Waterman-Peters. “Women sometimes hide behind the roles they play.”

When it comes to her work, Waterman-Peters is always receptive to feedback from her audience.

“Being able to do what I love and touch people’s lives – that is the greatest reward I get from my work,” said Waterman-Peters.

Women’s issues are something Waterman-Peters has encountered throughout her career. She was named to the Who’s Who of American Women.

“I have been named to many Who’s Who lists but I am most proud of this one,” said Waterman-Peters.

Waterman-Peters continues to be excited about upcoming shows and future projects.

“There are always things I want to do,” said Waterman-Peters. “For example, I want to keep up the women’s series. I don’t like to put parameters on myself.”

This formidable artist definitely has a plethora of plans and projects to be excited about.

“I have a book in the works about my cat; it’s all drawings, photos, essays, and poems. I want to continue to write poetry and make handmade books,” said Waterman-Peters. “Collaborating with my husband is something I would like to do more of.”