Natchitoches Bead Town design revealed

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 2:45pm

Representatives from Northwestern State University, the city and parish of Natchitoches, Cane River National Heritage Area and community volunteers were the first to glue beads on an 8 x 48-foot mural commemorating the city of Natchitoches’ 300th anniversary. Artist Stephan Wanger revealed the outline of a Front Street panorama Wednesday at NSU’s Orville G. Hanchey Gallery and discussed the Natchitoches Legacy Art Project, an educational trust to benefit future generations in Natchitoches.

The completed mural will be unveiled Nov. 23 in conjunction with the lighting of the city for the Christmas season, according to Tricentennial Chair Dr. Ron McBride. Volunteers of all ages are invited to participate in its creation.

The Natchitoches Legacy Project is an educational trust that will benefit students from Natchitoches in the year 2314. Through the sale of 300 prints valued at $300 each, Wanger foresees a trust worth billions of dollars so “that 300 years in the future, no child in Natchitoches Parish will have to worry about their education,” he said. He intends to implement “the Natchitoches Principle” in future Bead Town projects in other municipalities.

Wanger has been leading workshops at Hanchey Gallery since June, describing them as “humbling, exhausting and a lot of fun.” The Hamburg, Germany, native began working with bead art while living and working in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Bead Town murals are a tribute to Louisiana culture as well as a means of raising awareness about using upcycled materials in fine art.

When complete, the Natchitoches mural will surpass in size an earlier Wanger mosaic, “Paragons of New Orleans,” currently on exhibit at the Natchitoches Arts Center, along with several other pieces. Bead Town art has also been placed in several retail and public locations around the city, including Hanchey Gallery, with a scavenger hunt activity that encourages viewers to see all the pieces. Each was created with the help of thousands of students, parents and community volunteers.

More of Wanger’s work can be seen at Facebook users can follow the local project by liking Bead Town Natchitoches on Facebook. Wanger’s work is also the subject of a documentary currently being filmed by Cataclysm Pictures.

Bead Town workshops are held at Hanchey Gallery at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays at no charge. Online signup is available at

Mask-making workshops are held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Natchitoches Arts Center at $20 per person. Online signup is available at

Private and/or corporate workshops are also available. For information or to register for a workshop, call the Natchitoches Main Street Office at (318) 352-2746

Bead town is funded by Cane River National Heritage Area and hosted by Northwestern State University’s School of Creative and Performing Art/Department of Fine and Graphic Art.


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