This article first appeared in NANthology, the NAN newsletter, in summer 2011.
The weird thing about being asked to judge a show is that you may think you know what you will be doing, but you never really know!
I accepted an invitation to judge an art show on Maryland’s Eastern Shore–the Spring Art Show of the Talbot County Art Association. Since I judge both art and embroidery, this was not unusual. This was not a huge show, but a nice one, so I traveled expecting to see the usual oils, watercolors, and pastels. However, when I arrived before the other judge, the Chair suggested that since I had arrived early, maybe I could help also by judging the Peep Show!
What?? This conjured up a variety of visions, all strange, and with a bit of apprehension! What am I getting into?! But hey! A NAN judge can judge ANYTHING—- so why not!
The Chair escorted me to another part of the Gallery area, where a very unusual assortment of stuff met my eyes. Yep, they were edible Peeps–funny little marshmallow shapes, all pink, yellow, blue, green, and violet. There were chicks and bunnies too. They were arranged in tableau dioramas and that was what I was to judge.
Since this was a real show, the Chair shared the Guidelines and Rules with me. (Yes, they had rules.) The exhibitors could use any assortment and arrangement of these critters, preferably left out overnight so that they could harden and be easier to cut or shape. They are also very effective if frozen, but I didn’t need to know that, or did I? The shapes must then be assembled into a Diorama, designed to fit into a shoe-box container, possibly with a theme. Spangles, feathers, grass, toothpicks, stones, or other accessories are encouraged. Prizes were to be awarded in both Adult and Youth categories.
Another point of information shared by the Chair was that The Washington Post now has a Peep Show every year, with many entries from the graphic arts community in D.C. This was impressive. Also, the February issue of Better Homes and Gardens had a small article about Peeps made into sheep. Maybe we are onto a new medium!
There were about two dozen entries for consideration. So, I examined, contemplated, and pondered. I saw birds, zebras, alligators, elephants, flamingos, and many unidentifiable critters, all carved from marshmallow Peeps. The titles of the entries were intriguing: one was a Peep Protest, complete with little signs saying Give Peeps a chance. Another was “Julius Peeps Crossing the Rubicon” (obviously a Latin student). Some entries were just untitled.
So, you ask, how do I judge marshmallows? For judging criteria, I used the NAN basics: creativity, originality, composition, use of material, and presentation. Luckily, taste wasn’t a factor! The delightful little critters really were clever! Finally, I awarded the Adult prize to a Peep Maternity Ward, complete with their many-colored Peep sextuplets and the proud Peep parents. The Youth prize creation was “Justin Peepers in Concert”. This included a band of chicks on a stage made of graham crackers, a bunny audience, a Peep in a security uniform, tiny white marshmallows over the stage for spotlights, and Justin, a Peep holding a tiny marshmallow mike! This WAS a production!!
Shortly after I completed my Peeps duties, the other judge arrived, and we gathered to judge the more conventional art. He was dismayed that he had missed the fun. Later, as I left, having been paid for judging both jobs, I wondered about this new medium. Are we on the cutting edge of something? Is embroidery and marshmallow the next mixed media? Or do we just put it into the freezer and wait??