Sauna Art


The Sauna: Fantastical to Practical is a public art project designed specifically for FinnFest USA 2013 by artist Mary Wright. The involvement of hundreds of individuals and the spectacle of the finished saunas on parade and in sauna villages on site throughout the area will make a lasting impression on the people who travel here for the event as well as those who call the Copper Country their home.


Sauna makers will be encouraged to incorporate as many recycled materials as possible in the design and construction of their creations. As the name suggests, sauna designs will be welcomed from a broad range of interpretation. Not all saunas will be functional but will enliven the imagination and enjoyment of this well known Nordic icon. Sauna creators will retain ownership of the saunas made for this project though some may be donated to FinnFest USA 2013 for auction.  


Mary will use her valuable connections with public schools to ensure youth participation in FinnFest USA 2013. The Sauna project has the potential for curriculum infusion and will be a collaboration with shop teachers, social studies, creative writing (short stories, poems, storytelling), drama, language, art, and music classes. Mary will also work with K-middle school music programs to form a percussion unit for the FF13 parade. Schools are but one community Mary hopes to engage, and so we all are encouraged to join in the fun!


The broader communities throughout the Copper Country including MTU and Finlandia University will also be invited to create innovative as well as traditional saunas. The nature of this project encourages cross cultural intergenerational connections. The saunas will be seen in the FF13 parade and in “sauna villages” as public art in several locations bringing a visual cohesion to the festival that is taking place in multiple and far reaching venues. And if any of our friends want to bring in a sauna from, say, Minnesota, well, we would be thrilled to see that too!


About the Artist

Finnish American, Hancock-born Mary Wright is a community artist who has dreamed up and led the creation of more than 35 community projects throughout the state of Michigan and one in Canada. She has been working since 1996 breathing new life and enthusiasm into small communities by moving mass numbers of community members of all ages to come together to create public art. In 1999 she was recognized for her work as a community artist with the prestigious Governor’s Arts Award. In 2000-2001 she pioneered a statewide artist in residence program and worked on a task force to develop the Michigan Association of Community Arts Agencies’ Community PARTners Artists in Residence (CPAIR) program.