High school students use Easter treats to create art

WEIRTON (AP) — For many, Peeps are colorful, chewy marshmallow treats usually shaped like chickens or bunnies and often found in Easter baskets.

For many Brooke High School students, however, they are a tool with which they can create a variety of scenes, with the Peeps standing in for such diverse celebrities and characters as Alexander Hamilton, Pink Floyd, Obi Wan Kenobi and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby.

Each year Sara Roark, school art teacher, assigns her upper year art classes to produce a diorama using their choice of colored marshmallow candies.

The results are displayed in the school’s lecture room for a three-day exhibit Roark has dubbed a “Peep Show,” of course.

She said interest in the show has been high, with some students outside her classes inspired and encouraged to create their own Peep-centered works for the display.

All of the students are required to complete a form stating their favorite among the entries, three qualities that led to that selection and any changes or additions for improvements.

The most popular will receive a treat basket from Roark.

This year’s entries included:

* A scene from the history-inspired musical “Hamilton” with the cast of various hued bunny Peeps positioned in a fort made with painted popsickle sticks. The entry was created by Rebecca Conaway, a junior who isn’t one of Roark’s students.

* The climactic battle between Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker from “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith,” recreated by Noah Horvath, a sophomore. The two Peeps bear painted wood stick light sabers as they straddle graham cracker planks in a sea of lava created with Jell-O.

* The cast of “The Jungle Book,” with Peeps painted to resemble Mowgli, Bagheera, Baloo and Shere Khan and positioned in an Indian jungle setting created with artificial greenery by senior Brittany Lish.

* A scene of yellow bunny Peep protesters gathered outside the U.S. Capitol with signs encouraging onlookers to “Give Peeps a Chance.” It was produced by senior Kaylee Johnson.

* A scene created by juniors Patricia Gault and William Barney and inspired by television’s “The Office,” with a Peep staff working at small desks with a computer and scattered papers and a separate break room and office for the boss.

* A scene recreated from “The Great Gatsby” by senior Kristen Breen, with Peeps in top hats and feathered handbands dancing together, perched along the high staircase of the Gatsby mansion or swimming in its pool.

* The scene in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” when one of the factory’s youthful visitors is sucked through a tube after falling into the chocolate river. The Willie Wonka Peep, distinguished by his top hat, and others look on from a landscape of lollipop trees and gumdrop and Skittles stones in the scene created by Joshalyn Mameff.

A freshman, Mameff said she got the idea while viewing the film with her younger brother.

“It’s a funny scene. My brother liked it,” she said, adding creating the diorama “was really hard but I liked it.”

It’s a busy time for Roark, who again is planning an Artapalooza event in May for students and staff. Held on a Saturday, the event brings together a variety of artists and crafters who demonstrate their skills, from pottery to perfume-making.

Roark is coordinating the annual Brooke High School Student and Alumni Art Show to be held later this month at the Brooke County Museum and Cultural Center. The show will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 27, noon to 3 p.m. April 28 and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 29. Those who attend on the last day may cast their vote for the People’s Choice award. A panel of judges will select other winners, who will receive prizes.