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Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art

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Beach Museum of Art
Kansas State University
701 Beach Lane,
Manhattan, KS 66506
(14th & Anderson Ave.)



Life Forms: Chet Peters

September 12, 2014 - March 22, 2015

Chet Peters (1922–1995) became Kansas State University’s first vice president of student affairs following an education in economics. He earned the gratitude of many Kansans over his three-decade career as the university’s official student mentor. His legacy at K-State continues. A lecture series in his name brings in distinguished speakers on student development. The Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex draws thousands from the K-State community. Peters was an avid runner, and he and his wife, Doris (1922-2011), could regularly be seen using the facility. 

Fewer people may remember Chet Peters the artist. In addition to acting as an advocate for students, he was a passionate and prolific sculptor of wood. Swirling, circular, and blocky forms grace his former home and those of friends and patrons. Son Steve Peters remembers his father working in the basement every night, creating dust that moved upstairs into the home. Daughter Karen Hartner says that sculpting wood helped her father relieve the stress of being an administrator during the tumultuous 1960s, when protests rocked the campus and Nichols Hall succumbed to arson.

Time in the studio also guided Peters toward integrating art into his administrative work. He created arts awards for students and donated sculpture to be displayed on campus. His art also became a unique feature of his lecturing—what he referred to as “sculptured speech”—to high school and college students. This exhibition of works from the collection of the Peters family examines the artist’s use of art as an educator, his fascination with abstraction and nature, and his sensitivity to the inherent variation of wood.

This exhibition is made possible in part by a gift from Steve and Renee Peters. 

Chet Peters Sculpture Inventory

The children of Chet Peters, Steve Peters and Karen Hartner, are interested in learning how many of their father’s sculptures exist today and are working with the K-State Alumni Association to take inventory of his works of art. Karen has provided funding to employ a student to compile the information. Anyone who has a sculpture may help in creating the inventory records by sharing information about their sculpture online at k-state.com/ChetPeters by November 21, 2014. 

Related Programs

All programs take place at the Beach Museum of Art and are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. 

Celebrating Art: Transformations - SOLD OUT
September 12, 2014, 6-9 p.m.
Friends of the Beach Museum of Art fundraising gala and exhibition opening. For tickets call 785-532-7718.

Early Release Workshop
October 8, 2014, 2-3:30 p.m.
View “Tree Of Life” and “Life Forms” and learn more about sculpting in wood. Create your own wooden sculptures (no carving involved). $5 per participant, $3 for Friends of the Beach Museum of Art members.

Life Forms: Chet Peters Roundtable Discussion
February 26, 2015, 6 p.m.
Join Curator Liz Seaton, K-State Vice President of Student Life Pat Bosco, and Chet Peters' son, Steve Peters, in a conversation about Peters the artist. 


Image credit: Chet Peters, Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.