Scanga was born in the Calabria region of Italy. He immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 14 years old. Living in Detroit, he worked on the General Motors assembly line and served in the United States Army before attending Michigan State University, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1960 and a master's degree in sculpture a year later. From 1967 until the late 1970s he taught at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. His work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.