July 24 – 28, 2024

Finnish Rag Rugs
Lorri and Kara Oikarainen will display examples of their textile artistry and talk about how the rugs are designed and made. They will explain the role thrift and recycling play in the decisions they make. They will illustrate how rag strips are made and become part of the weaving. They will talk about the artistic challenges: creating patterns, selecting colors and color combinations that become beautiful rugs.

Swedish American Rug Weaving
Carole Spelic will display examples of her rug weaving work. She will talk with FinnFest attendees who stop at her booth, describing how she made the decisions that became the rugs, discussing the process of weaving, sharing stories about the rugs.

Wood carving
Taylor Johnson: Woodworking is woven deeply into the cultural fabric of Nordic America. Taylor Johnson is a wood carver who specializes in acanthus carving, an art form deeply rooted in this particular Nordic artform. At his tori booth, Johnson will demonstrate and talk about his wood carving and present examples of his work : kubbestols, trunks, benches, boxes, shelves, mirrors, and delicately carved bowls—all infused with the spirit of Nordic heritage.

Taylor Johnson’s lineage traces back to the Scandinavian heartlands, where woodworking is woven into the cultural fabric. Raised on a Wisconsin farm, Taylor inherited his father’s passion for carpentry. His father, Monroe Johnson, excelled in acanthus carving—an art form deeply rooted in Nordic tradition. Together, father and son embarked on a transformative journey to Norway. Amidst ancient churches and historic buildings, they marveled at intricate woodcarvings, drawing inspiration from legends like Rolf Taraldest and Johan Amrud. Taylor’s education extended beyond family ties. He learned from gold medal award winners, honing his craft over three decades. Now retired, Taylor devotes his days to acanthus carving—a timeless expression of cultural pride. As the festival celebrates Nordic roots and the art of learning, Taylor’s legacy stands tall—a testament to craftsmanship, tradition, and the enduring allure of acanthus motifs.

Ojibwe Arts
Wayne Valliere will show his artwork: birchbark baskets, beadwork, quillwork. He will come with photographs of his masterwork of other Ojibwe art forms: birchbark canoes, lodges, and hunting tools. He will talk with tori attendees about Ojibwe culture. Mino-Giizhig (Wayne Valliere) is an Ojibwe artist best known for his birch bark canoe building; however he specializes in a wide array of traditional arts, including beadwork, quillwork, basketry, lodges and hunting tools. He is also an accomplished singer and storyteller. He works as a language and culture teacher at the Lac du Flambeau Public School. From Waaswaaganag (Lac du Flambeau) he works with apprentices and students to keep the traditional arts alive and thriving. Among other awards and recognitions, he is a 2020 National Endowment of the Arts National Heritage Awardee.

Derek Brabender
Woodwork, including wood carving, continues to be an artform practiced by Nordic Americans. Wood carvers include people who do “bowl turning” and “spoon carving.” Alan Anderson presents this work in his booth. He will show examples and discuss his craft with people who stop to look at his booth.

Alan Anderson will display his woodwork , both furniture and bowl turning. He will help people who stop by to see his meticulous attention to construction details, the selection of the wood and the matching of grain and color. He will share how his work borrows from a number of traditions. Most importantly, his work is deeply imbedded in the Scandinavian folk art tradition. All four of his grandparents came from Sweden, and my paternal grandfather was a master woodcarver who carved the original carvings that would be reproduced in a furniture factory in Rockford, Illinois. Anderson is privileged to use some of his grandfather’s tools in his own carvings. He will share his insights into way Nordic people have used wood in countless functional ways and developed its own aesthetic of design and ornamentation. In these old traditional Scandinavian folk art designs, he sees the roots of modern Scandinavian design and considers that the two traditions seem to flow together seamlessly.

These artists’ participation at FinnFest is supported and organized by the Nordic Folklife Project/Center for the Study of Upper Midwest Cultures, University of Wisconsin–Madison.