Bead Town comes to Region

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News & People in the News

Published on May 02, 2018 with No Comments

Mural showcases South Shore area with recycled Mardi Gras beads

Nearly 15 million recycled Mardi Gras beads and thousands of participants will create a mural depicting Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland at the Bead Town: Along the South Shore exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.

The mural will highlight dozens of historic and iconic locations that make up the landscapes along the southern shores of Lake Michigan. The 3,311-square-foot mural is the newest artwork by Bead Town and will attempt to set a Guinness World Record.

The interactive art exhibit is designed to bring people together as a community-building project. Students and volunteers at Bead Town will use millions of beads and other found objects such as fossils, bottle caps, screws, nails and washers to create artworks. The project will take two years to complete and will be open to the public wishing to be a part of history.

Bead Town: Along the South Shore applies innovative teaching methodologies that foster intrinsic motivation, collaboration, tolerance, teamwork, Socratic learning and student empowerment. The mural will depict landscapes of the Midwest but also incorporate a person each of the 242 countries and territories around the world.
When completed, the mural will feature a circle, standing 8 feet tall and spanning 204 feet (circumference). When people stand in the center, they will see Northwest Indiana by day and Chicago’s skyline by night.

Depicted landmark include the Indiana Dunes, Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John, downtown Chesterton, Valparaiso University’s Chapel of the Resurrection, the grist mill at Deep River County Park, Beverly Shores train station, and the Michigan City lighthouse. More than 20 landmarks will be included on the beaded mural.
“We are excited to bring attention to the South Shore; our progress and innovation; our diversity, history and who we are as a people with this global project,” said Speros A. Batistatos, president/CEO of the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority.

Stephan Wanger, executive director and founder of Bead Town, echoed Batistatos’ message, “This project will bring people together around the world via sister cities and touch lives in every country and territory. It’s our opportunity to tell the stories of people and places through art.”

Wanger is a self-taught artist who channels his creative energy into assembling dazzling mosaics using recycled Mardi Gras beads. Working in a photorealistic style, Wanger recreates iconic images to make the innate beauty and unique culture of this area available to the world.

A native German who has now call America home, Wanger became involved in Hurricane Katrina relief when he discovered all the leftover beads from Mardi Gradi – 10,000 tons annually. He decided to use those beads to tell a story.

Wanger’s “Life in the French Quarter” beaded mural is the current Guinness World Record achievement for the largest mosaic made out of beads. The artwork, a tribute to New Orleans, measures 96 feet in length and stands 8 feet tall. That exhibit was unveiled last year in Gary, as local school children worked on that mural which required 6 million beads.

Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch joined Batistatos and Wanger for an opening of the exhibit. Crouch also placed the first ceremonial bead in a display of the Indiana Welcome Center, which will house the exhibit before it leaves for display around the country and the world. The exhibit will be displayed now until Sept. 30, 2018, when the center opens its “Christmas Story” exhibit. Bead Town will return in February 2019.

A calendar of events is posted online at www.southshorebeadtown.com. New events will be added throughout the year. The public is invited to participate in the project by stopping by the welcome center at 7770 Corinne Dr. in Hammond and placing beads on the mural.

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