NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s School of Creative and Performing Arts/Department of Fine + Graphic Art invites the public to the unveiling of the Natchitoches Bead Town mural and join the festivities as the artwork becomes part of the Guinness Book of World Records. The 48 x 8-foot mosaic was commissioned by the City of Natchitoches as part of its Tricentennial celebration and depicts a panoramic view of Front Street and Cane River in a composition made entirely of Mardi Gras beads. The unveiling will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 in NSU’s Orville Hanchey Gallery.
Artist Stephan Wanger has spent the last six months in residence in Natchitoches, designing and completing the mural with the help of volunteers from all ages and walks of life. “Un Rue Principale en Louisiane (A Main Street of Louisiana)” is his largest bead piece to date.
In conjunction with the unveiling and Guinness certification, NSU will screen a documentary film created by Cataclysm Pictures profiling Wanger’s life and work. Screenings will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 and Thursday, Dec. 5 in Magale Recital Hall. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased by calling Kim Habig at (318) 332-4503. More information about the film is available at beadtownfilm.com.
A music ensemble of NSU exchange students from Columbia will entertain during the unveiling. Area school groups who participated in the mural’s creation are expected to attend, as well as volunteers from Northwestern State and the Natchitoches community.
Wanger is a German-born artist who moved to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and began creating large-scale works of art using discarded Mardi Gras beads. Bead Town murals are a tribute to Louisiana culture as well as a means of raising awareness about recycling and using upcycled materials in fine art. His work has appeared in several Main Street communities in Louisiana, including New Orleans, Denham Springs and Slidell. The Natchitoches mural is intricately detailed and incorporates many local cultural symbols. The names of volunteers who spent the most time at work on the mural are also included.
Wanger also initiated the Natchitoches Legacy Art Project in which an educational trust fund will be established with proceeds from the sale of 300 prints of the Natchitoches mural.
In January, Wanger will transport all his work to northern Indiana and the Chicago where he hopes to promote Louisiana and its culture to a Midwestern audience.