LIMA — Some artists work with oil paints, others maybe chalk or clay. Some may even use beautiful models to complete their art pieces.But then there is Shawnee High School art teacher Brian Krawetzke and his students. They don't need any of that stuff. They use Peeps, and the little marshmallow chicks and bunnies are usually pretty cooperative. “The are gooey, so everything sticks. It makes assembling a little bit easier,” Krawetzke said.“But then they stick to each other, and they stick to your fingers,” senior Madison Risser adds a counterpoint. “And then the sugar gets everywhere.”Welcome to “Peepapalooza,” where those Easter-time, sugar-coated Peeps take center stage in Krawetzke's art classroom — and where everyone leaves with a sugar high. “I think they OD'd last year on Peeps,” Krawetzke said. “For every one Peep that they used, I think they ate an extra five.”Krawetzke started the project three years ago, modeling it after the Peep diorama contest known as The Washington Post Peep Show. One of the Shawnee students' diorama, “Justin Peeper,” was featured on last year's national contest website. An audience of yellow chicks hold “I love Peeper” signs as a purple bunny serenades from the stage.Other favorites have been “Marie Ann Peepnet,” a scene depicting Marie Antoinette with a miniature guillotine taking off a poor little pink bunny's head, and “Peepcasso,” featuring a pink bunny artist holding a paint palette and admiring his work.“It is always interesting what they come up with,” Krawetzke said.To participate, students must have worked on various community service projects this year. One project is a mural going up soon at the Allen County Humane Society. “We use it as kind of a reward party for the students who work hard throughout the year,” Krawetzke said. This year's party is planned for April 18.It is a party students are eager to attend. It features a “buffet of sweets” with Peeps, of course, being in the main course. It's also a chance for teams of students to take home the “Peeple's Choice” award. This year the award comes with a bright yellow (just like those little chicks) T-shirt proclaiming to all, “I Survived Peepapalooza 2012.” Junior Emma Spencer recently wore her winning 2011 T-shirt to school. She and classmates Alex Schoonover and Emily Hunt went with a King Kong theme. An enlarged photo of a Peep sits atop the Empire State Building, with Ann Darrow close by. Pink and blue Peeps shoot at King Kong from the ground and from biplanes. “We kind of brainstormed and tried to fit Peep into the words of famous lines,” Emma said. “We decided it was ‘beauty that killed the Peep,' so we did King Kong.”The three's piece may have gone a little quicker than others. Emma and Alex don't even like Peeps. What?“I like any kind of candy,” Emily confessed, as did other art students, who admit hiding the Peeps until ready to assemble is probably a good idea.Before sophomore Maddy Cohorn and senior Taylor Ludwig went to work on their “Harry Peeper” diorama, they practiced with petrified Peeps from last year. No chance they would eat those stale, stiff 'mallows.Harry Peeper and Ron Weasley, both yellow chicks, hold brooms, while Hermione is portrayed by a purple bunny. All wear the traditional Harry Potter scarves. Students didn't forget Harry's glasses. “We decided to use a bunny as the girl,” Maddy explained. When Madison and senior Breta Moore get started on their “Hunger Games” themed diorama they will use bunnies for their main characters as they reinvent the movie's final fight scene. “They are easier to add hair and face stuff to,” Breta said. “The chicks you can use for background because they are so short.”Madison admits she prefers the original little chicks. They “are the cutest,” after all. She never thought of Peep art until Krawetzke brought the idea three years ago. Since, she hasn't wanted to miss out on the fun. It's unlike any other art project.“We get to enjoy it, also,” she said. “We make it, and then we eat it afterwards. It is just kind of a fun, silly day.” You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.
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