For millions of tourists and revelers each year, Mardi Gras is one of the biggest parties on the planet.
For Stephan Wanger, it's an opportunity to bring attention to an issue of waste management that grows more important with each passing day.
Each year, the famous beads of Mardi Gras symbolize the "bon temps" of the annual celebration, but they also result in thousands of tons of discarded landfill, according to Wanger. And so he decided to do something about it.
Using more than 2 million individual beads, the native German got to work creating a piece of art meant to spotlight the issue of his adopted hometown. He finished with a record-breaking mosaic measuring 35.67 m² (384 ft²). Its 14.63 meter-long, 2.43 meter-tall (48 x 8 feet) scene depicted a downtown street in Natchitoches, Louisiana, where the final mosaic was revealed at the Northwestern State University of Louisiana's Hanchey Gallery in December.
"We are extending the lifespan of these beads in every fun way imaginable, by simply creating art," Wanger said.
Guinness World Records was on hand to present Wanger with a certificate commemorating his latest achievement. You can see the mosaic come to life here.
To prepare for each piece, Wanger sorts beads both by shade and by size down to the millimeter. He first collects discarded beads throughout Mardi Gras in an effort to clean post-parade debris, and also regularly visits salvage yards to gather additional materials for his work.
Wagner says he hopes to inspire the citizens of Louisiana to recycle and to create, and the rest of the world to appreciate and gain fondness for the unique culture and natural beauty that Louisiana has to offer.
In the past, his works of art and recognition for them have helped raise funds and awareness for Mardi Gras Beads Recycling Centers in New Orleans, The Arc of Greater New Orleans, and various schools in the area.
Wanger was assisted in this case by the Cane River National Heritage Area, breaking the previous bead mosaic record of 17.595 m² (189.39 ft²), set by an artist in the Netherlands in January 2013.
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