Peter Vanderwarker ’65
January 24, 2024

A visual learner’s journey

Three alumni photographers put their focus back on Andover
by Peter Vanderwarker ’65

Peter Vanderwarker is a photographer and artist whose prints are in the collections of the Addison Gallery; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Boston Athenaeum. He is the author of three books about Boston. Vanderwarker’s work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Graham Foundation. He is represented by Gallery NAGA Boston.


Since Andover was the place that I discovered photography, it was an honor to be asked to return after more than 50 years to make some new pictures. I love wintertime and I made plans to photograph when there was snow. One Saturday afternoon, I got lucky.

Andover’s campus becomes abstracted during the winter. Colors are muted, sounds are softened, and the line work of the trees becomes important. We make our own heat, and I believe we have more freedom to think when it is cold.

During my time at Andover, I had an undiagnosed attention deficit disorder. I struggled with reading and history, but I found a place for myself in the (then–brand new) studio art center. It was there I discovered photography.

1 4

I had trouble getting admitted to college, and I took a year off to work. I owe a debt to Dean Benedict, who wrangled me a place at the architecture school at UC Berkeley. After graduation, it took me three miserable years to learn that although I hated practicing architecture, I did have the skills to photograph buildings. I have been doing this now for 40 years.

The studio art center was the place where Gerald Shertzer helped me realize several steel sculptures over a very hot gas forge. I still have one of the forged steel sculptures I made at Andover. In 2010, I was asked to take some photographs of the new Addison Museum Learning Center, which was a pleasant assignment that brought back many memories.

For many alumni, Andover’s campus is beautiful. It is also a place that brings back strong feelings: some failures and regrets, but also some triumphs and discoveries of one’s own particular skills.

Categories: Alumni, Magazine

Other Stories

Peter Vanderwarker ’65
A visual learner’s journey

Three alumni photographers put their focus back on Andover

Denise Simon ’94
Absence. Change. Renewal. 

Three alumni photographers put their focus back on Andover