Artist's obsession with Twinkies spans 4 decades

MARTIN GRIFFITH
The Associated Press
Modified: January 23, 2013 at 2:45 pm •  Published: January 23, 2013
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photo - This undated image shows artist Nancy Peppin's
This undated image shows artist Nancy Peppin's "The Last Snack," modeled after Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper,'' one of thedozens of pieces of art Nancy Peppin has created over the years using Twinkies and other Hostess products. A graphic artist by day for slot machine-maker International Game Technology, Peppin doesn't like to eat Twinkies. She uses them to depict popular culture similar to Any Warhol. (AP Photo/Courtesy Nancy Peppin)

She updated the Audubon series after Hostess shut down operations in November: "It went from being the most popular snack cake in the world to sudden extinction due to consumption by raptors — capitalist vultures (cathartes wallstreetidae)."

Her painting titled "The Last Snack" is a takeoff of da Vinci's "The Last Supper" featuring Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and other Hostess products at a table with the same arrangement and background as da Vinci's classic.

Her parody of a "girly" calendar from an auto body shop features a partially undressed "Miss Twinkie" standing next to her Harley.

The artwork reflects the offbeat sense of humor of a woman who by day creates special effects animation for Reno-based International Game Technology, one of the world's largest slot machine makers.

Steven High, executive director of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla., said he finds Peppin's artwork — and use of Twinkies as a metaphor to explore various subjects — clever, humorous and imaginative.

"In some ways, she takes this kind of silly item and treats it as a cultural artifact and imagines it as a subject of scientific studies," he said. "She's an excellent illustrator and the way she pulls these (works) together is amazing. They're fascinating and draw you in, even though the subject matter is unusual."

Peppin foresees no end to her obsession. With many potential buyers lined up for Hostess brands, she says, Twinkies will survive into the future.

Hostess is expected to announce a bidder for Twinkies and its other snack cakes this month. Other interested parties will be able to make competing offers once the top bid is announced.

"It'll become a mutation of the species, but it'll perpetuate the species," Peppin said. "There are all sorts of history applications that I haven't exhausted like Twinkies being found in the ruins at Pompeii."