This project combines two aspects of murals that CRP is consistently checking for: Innovation and Recycling. Stephan Wagner made a series of new artwork in Ruston, LA out of recycled Mardi Gras beads! The artwork is beautiful and intricate, ranging from symbolic pieces, like the one below, to photorealistic. We were wondering if Mardi Gras beads got recycled year to year, or if they were used throughout the year, or, if they were being thrown out. We thought that creating new artwork from them  was brilliant and glad to see that they are not going to waste.

RUSTON, La., (KNOE 8 News) – A one-of- a-kind exhibit is coming to the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center.

Bead Town Ruston will open with a reception on Thursday, November 8 from 5-7p.m.  German-born artist Stephan Wanger, now a resident of New Orleans, channels his creative energy through a unique art form using recycled Mardi Gras beads to produce dazzling mosaics that showcase the beauty of Louisiana in a way that has never before been seen.

Working in a photo-realistic style, Wanger re-creates scenes, images and icons of Louisiana to help bring awareness to the world of the innate beauty and wonder of the state’s unique culture and varied communities.  Through his experiences traveling the world, Wanger has gained insight and influence from Spanish Art Nouveau designs, Moorish and Persian architectural details, and American sculpture and environmental art.

The rebuilding efforts in South Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina reminded Wanger of growing up in post-World War II Germany.  “People say it’s not worth rebuilding, and so there were some of these sentiments after Katrina hit if New Orleans is worth rebuilding and I had a problem with it,” says Wanger. He moved to the Crescent City to help rebuild, and he has not only helped revitalize NOLA, but he is now on a mission to inspire all Louisiana residents.  “I started cutting the Mardi Gras beads one-by-one and then I started creating pieces that promote the state of Louisiana, it also recycles and teaches other people, you know, to take care of discarded materials, and what they can make out them,” says Wanger.

To construct each piece, beads are meticulously sorted by size down to the exact millimeter and perfect shade, creating a detailed and varied palette much like a painter would create.  The play of light and color, as well as the variety of sizes of the beads used to create dimension result in finished works that  are stunning both from a distance and on close inspection.  The Ruston exhibit at the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center will feature several pieces from workshops created by students under Wanger’s guidance.  “Taste of Louisiana,” featuring the state’s culinary highlights; “Pick Your Passion,” featuring icons from Louisiana; both of these will be highlighted by a giant mural included in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest mosaic made out of Mardi Gras Beads, “Sanctuary of Alegria- Home of Happiness.” This 30-foot-wide, 8-foot high mural features the skyline of New Orleans and contains over a million Mardi Gras Beads.  It premiered at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans in January of this year. Recently it has been on exhibit at the Old Post Office Museum in Winnsboro, LA as part of Bead Town Winnsboro.

Wanger will also be working with teens in a special mask making workshop on Thursday, November 15, 2012 in the Library Events Center at 6:00p.m. Students will work with Wanger to learn his technique and method of using Mardi Gras beads to create their very own Mardi Gras masks.  After the workshop teens will have an opportunity to work on a piece that will become part of the traveling Bead Town exhibit featuring Louisiana, which Wanger hopes to take to Europe next year.  Another mask making session will be held on November 29, December 6, and 13, 2012 at 6PM in the Library Events Center for adults to join in on the fun of creating beaded art.  All programs are free to the public but registration is required as seating is limited to the first 25 registrants.  Wanger is very interested in working with local schools and community groups to work on additional pieces that will feature Ruston and Lincoln Parish in the traveling Bead Town Exhibit.

To visit the gallery, go to  For more information about the Bead Town exhibit and workshops, or to learn how you can be a part of Bead Town Ruston, contact Emily Arnold, programming Coordinator at 251-5030.