A large sculpture of a sea turtle sits on what looks like part of the ocean. All around it is trash — beer bottles, deflated balloons, plastic drink cups and straws. In its mouth is a plastic grocery bag. This is all stuff that humans have thrown away that will harm — or even kill — turtles and other sea life.
The sculpture looks real although it is made with candy Peeps. And it’s just one of the creations on display at this year’s Peep show at the Arts Council of Wayne County Sept. 7-21.
Ingrid Quick, 78, made the sea turtle Peep sculpture to show what’s in the ocean, and the trash turtles think is food, they ingest.
“I love sea turtles, and I’m just totally irritated with trash everywhere,” Quick said. “Everywhere you look, somebody’s thrown something out instead of disposing of it properly.”
She said sea turtles are old, but by throwing out trash, people are not giving them a chance to live.
“I hope this sculpture will make people realize that animals depend a lot on what we do,” Quick said.
“If we don’t throw things out, then sea turtles are less likely to eat it and die from it.”
It took her about 50 hours to do the sculpture using 585 Peeps.
She did a Kiwanis Peep train for the first Peep show last year because she’s a member of Goldsboro Kiwanis, the group that runs the train at Herman Park.
She had Peep bunnies driving the train and Peeps in the seats as passengers.
Emily Figueras, gallery director and coordinator of this year’s Peep show, said the event is a fundraiser for the Arts Council and local charities.
“It was an idea that former director Wendy Walker had last year,” she said.
“It was a huge success where she came from in Maryland, and she thought it was such a fun idea to do here. It’s hard to wrap your mind around what sculptures made with Peeps really are.”
It works like this: Local people create Peep sculptures and enter them in the Peep show.
People going to the Arts Council to see them also vote on them. Each vote is $1.
Half of the proceeds go to the Arts Council and half go to the charity connected with the sculpture.
You can also see the sculptures and vote on them online at acwcpeepshow.com.
“It’s a cool way for the community to join together and raise money for some really good causes,” Figueras said. “And it’s always fun to see what people come up with. Some are only as big as a plate and some are as big as a castle.”
She said visitors’ reactions to the Peep sculptures last year were all smiles and laughs.
“They got up close to look and realized they were really made with Peeps,” Figueras said.
“It’s really a fun thing for kids and adults.”
This year, one of the Peep creations is also a game people can play. It’s similar to the old Operation game.
“We refer to him as Mr. Peepers and Sir Peeps A lot,” said Brittani Schultze-Gardner, manager of digital and community relations at Wayne UNC Health Care, who created the sculpture.
“We decided to to the Operation man because we just opened the new expansion for our surgery center and we’re really excited about the capabilities that it brings to the community. We thought this would be a great way to highlight camaraderie and the state-of-the-art facility we just opened.”
An artist from the Arts Council helped design the belly of Sir Peeps A Lot.
Then during lunch hour over several days, various people at the hospital added Peeps and wired it to beep.
“Some of the Peeps were decapitated and the heads went here and the bodies went there,” Schultze-Gardner said.
“One night we had Pizza and Peeps night and brought our families to finish it.”
Sir Peeps A Lot has several cavities with various parts that you use tongs to try to remove.
If you touch the tongs to the metal sides, the car horn goes off and Sir Peeps A Lot’s nose lights up.
“We entered the Peep show because we love the arts,” Schultze-Gardner said.
“We think that the Arts Council is doing a lot here. We wanted to be an active part in the community and thought this would be a really fun way to do that.”
Karin Thompson won last year’s Peep show with her sculpture of dogs in the back of a moving truck with their ears and tongues blowing in the wind.
This year, she’s tackling an even bigger project — the Fortress of Hope, featuring the fire breathing SMOC the dragon.
“I came up with the idea of the dragon and I called Lee Parrish at Southeastern Medical Oncology Center and asked him if they would be interested in that being a piece for them,” Thompson said.
“And they were very interested.”
The castle, flowers and stepping stones were made by youths in the Arts Council’s summer camps.
Thompson redid last year’s PeneloPeep the dragon’s head.
It is now iridescent purply coppery colored and breathes fire.
Several little princesses hang out at the castle, and along the top are different colors of ribbons for the various types of cancer.
Thompson is also making a storybook that tells the legend of SMOC and what the castle represents.
“SMOC the dragon is the protector of the realm of eastern North Carolina and Southeastern Cancer Care,” she said.
“She is defender of all types of cancer. I hope that when people see the sculpture, they’ll see that we have this great entity in eastern North Carolina that’s doing so much for the people, and that’s SMOC.”
Dr. Samer Kasbari with SMOC said that “the Arts Council has been extremely supportive to cancer patients in Wayne County. Both SMOC and SCC Cures for the Colors are very grateful for the creativity and dedication they bring to our community. Events like this help raise awareness of cancer treatment and screenings in our community.”
In addition to the Fortress of Hope, Thompson is also making a Peep sculpture for Eli’s and the Humane Society that involves a surprise element and one for the Community Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro, which will be a pot of gumbo.
“Last year when we started doing Peep sculptures, I just thought it was a lot of fun to be able to make artwork out of candy,” Thompson said.
“Once you start doing it, then you start having more and more ideas of things you can do. It’s always very relaxing for me to create. And it’s fun to see what you can come up with.”
The Peep sculptures can be seen at the Arts Council Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.