About Stephan Wanger
Stephan Wanger is a self-taught artist who channels his creative energy into assembling dazzling mosaics using recycled Mardi Gras beads and other found objects. Working in a photorealistic style, Stephan recreates iconic images, even Guinness World Records with communities.
Through his experiences traveling the globe, Stephan has gained insight and influence from the Spanish Art Nouveau designs of Antoni Gaudi, the Moorish and Persian architectural details in Istanbul, Turkey, and the sculpture and environmental art of Chicago artist and friend John David Mooney. These designs and images have influenced the use of pattern, design, and fine detail in his work. Stephan engages in a craft that speaks to fine art, borrowing the ideals of Post-Impressionistic Pointillism and emulating the style and scale of Roy Lichtenstein's Pop-Art works. Approaching each piece with an eye toward superior craftsmanship, Stephan has elevated what may be considered whimsical material to a level of fine art.
In preparation for the formal construction of 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 prepare hues for painting. In many instances Stephan also spray paints the beads in order to get color he desires. The resulting play of light and color recalls several Post-Impressionistic artists' works while adding a new dimension of glitter and shine through the use of metallic, plastic and luminescent beads.
The illusion of three-dimensional space is often created through the use of perspective but also the variety of sizes of the beads he uses to create actual dimension adds an element of bas-relief. The finished works are stunning to regard both from a distance and upon close inspection of the highly detailed craftsmanship.
A manifestation of Stephan's stylistic and environmental goal is the use of recycled materials for his pieces. Not only does he collect discarded beads throughout Mardi Gras in an effort to clean post-parade debris, but he regularly visits salvage yards (The Arc of Greater New Orleans, St. Michael Special School, the Green Project) to gather additional materials for his work.
Through his art, Stephan hopes to inspire anyone to recycle and to create, and encourage the rest of the world to appreciate and gain fondness for the unique culture and natural beauty that these artworks have to offer.
Stephan also teaches on a regular basis of how to create artworks out of recycled materials. This labor of love, which he founded in 2010, is known as Bead Town.
Together with the community, last May, Bead Town broke a Guinness World Records™ title with a 96 ft x 8 ft (29.3 m x 2.5 m) mosaic, made from recycled Mardi Gras beads. The artwork titled ‘Life in the French Quarter’ honors and celebrates New Orleans’ 300th Birthday in 2018. It took over three years to create, with over 2,500 tourists, volunteers, students and other community members from three different states (Louisiana, Indiana and Illinois) to bring the artwork to life. For more information visit www.beadtown.org.