Keeper of the Plans

Wichita artist has created a ‘human car wash’ for people to walk through

See inside ‘human car wash’ art installation

Artist Mary Alexis Wirths has created a "human car wash" as an art installation this Final Friday. The installation is also scheduled to be a part of Riverfest 2019.
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Artist Mary Alexis Wirths has created a "human car wash" as an art installation this Final Friday. The installation is also scheduled to be a part of Riverfest 2019.

Mary Alexis Wirths always wondered what it would be like to walk through a car wash.

The feeling of the rotating brushes and the fabric strips that are always so fascinating to watch from the dry interior of your car.

So Wirths, an art major at Wichita State University, decided she’d just make her own car wash, sans autos.

This quirky “human car wash” installation is set to premiere at Final Fest, a free music and arts festival taking place at the ICT Urban Pop-Up Park this Final Friday.

Though it hasn’t even been officially finished, the “human car wash” was intriguing enough that Wichita Riverfest organizers have already booked it as a festival feature this year.

So what, exactly, is it?

It’s contained in a 10-by-9-foot greenhouse structure, complete with spinning brushes, fabric strips and other such pieces.

“It’s kind of like a maze, but with components from a car wash,” she said.

It is equipped with misters, but Wirths said she will likely save the water for Riverfest, when it’s a little warmer outside.

A disclaimer: Just because it’s billed as a “human car wash,” don’t count on it being a replacement for your daily shower.

So what artistic statement is the “human car wash” trying to make?

Wirths said her “main job with art is to make things for the public that are accessible.”

“I just wanted to think of a fun idea that would attract people, really,” she said. “Art is not just a painting or a drawing or a sculpture. It can be anything you want.”

The project was aided by a $300 grant from the Wichita Arts Council, which Harvester Arts helped co-write.

See the installation in person at Final Fest Music and Arts Festival, which runs from 3-11 p.m. Friday in the Pop-Up Park, 121 E. Douglas. Admission is free.

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.
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