The Explosive Art Of Stick Vega

By Erika Janik | June 8, 2016


Listen Online

Some people make art using paint; others draw. Artist Stick Vega uses gun powder to create pop art. 

He discovered the potential of gun powder in art while on a business trip in China where he saw the work of Cai Guo-Qiang, a contemporary Chinese painter.

“He does these massive installations and huge explosions,” explains Vega.

Vega thought it might be an interesting technique to try. He’d started a painting a few years earlier as an escape from his hectic job as a CEO. He read up on gun powder and gathered his supplies. 

When he was ready to give it a try, he invited a few friends over to witness the blast. 

“I was just about to light the fuse and that’s when I realized that this is the moment of pure art,” says Vega. “As that fuse heads toward it’s artistic destination, there is a uncertainty. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Things didn’t go quite as Vega predicted. He didn’t realize that there are hundreds of types of fuses and that he’d chosen one that burned fast and hot. 

“It went kaboom! And a mini-mushroom cloud went up over the neighborhood,” says Vega. 

Rather than be scared away, Vega was hooked.

“I now thought this is the coolest thing I could be doing,” says Vega

Vega sold his company and became a fiull-time artist. He studied the science of gun powder and continues to experiment with different fuses, gun powders, and paints.

A few years ago, Vega landed on his artisticmisson.

“The more gun powder I use, the less there will be for killing people,” says Vega. “That’s what drives me every morning. I’m going to find a way to use gun powder to make the world a better place.”






Erika Janik

Erika Janik

Erika Janik is the co-creator and former executive director of Wisconsin Life. She is the author of six books, including Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction, Apple: A Global History, and  Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine. She’s currently the executive...
2018-01-19T17:52:55-06:00Tags: , |

Sign Up Form

Sign Up for Our Bi-Weekly Newsletter

Get your favorite Wisconsin Life stories, meet the crew, and go behind the scenes.

Our Favorite Collections

Storyteller Rodney Lambright II's comic series about the rich relationship between a single father, his young daughter and his retirement-age parents.
For the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we discover how Wisconsinites experienced the war both at home and on the battlefield.
Ice, cold and winter are an integral part of what it means to live in Wisconsin. "Ice Week" explores the many ways that ice defines us.
Food plays a central part in many holiday traditions. This series honors the foods and meals that make the day.
Escape winter with a look at some of Wisconsin's favorite sports and games.
"Living the Wisconsin Life" is an online series exploring the little things that make living in Wisconsin fun, interesting and meaningful.