Martha Bird is a self taught Minneapolis-based multidisciplinary artist who specializes in traditional and sculptural basketry. Nationally and internationally known basketmakers have been her teachers, as this art medium is passed down specifically from artisan to artisan. Basketry, as a medium, has depth as it reaches back to the beginning of time and breadth as it stretches across all continents, while remaining a practice of only simple tools and the creator’s hands and the materials.
Martha has exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions that include locations and organizations such as the Minneapolis Convention Center, Textile Center, Avivo Artworks, and the American Art Company in Tacoma, Washington. She is committed to community and has been involved in the arts as a student, volunteer, curator, writer, arts organizer, teaching artist and arts advocate.
The Minnesota Historical Society (housed at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, MN) recently acquired a series of her basketry works and plan to “follow her as an artist” into the future. Additionally, the former founder/curator of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, Lloyd Herman, chose one of her sculptural baskets to tour the United States for a year with the National Basketry Organization (NBO). The NBO has described her work as "a benchmark of excellence...that demonstrate superior technique and original concept and design."
I work intentionally through my hands and body to create shapes and designs that express and connect my soul and mind. My background of a master's degree in holistic nursing weaves together my basketry as representation of healing in body, mind and spirit to invite wholeness in both the work and in myself.
I explore basketweaving as a blend of the traditional forms of the medium with avant-garde practices, an experiment with materials, method and technique. My work pushes the strictly utilitarian into contemporary art forms. Themes I encounter and investigate include: the individual is stronger in community, connections, art as a healing and creative force, and the beauty of nature.
My creations call to one’s senses. As my hands explore the material, I begin to discover its hidden design potential. Even as I create one piece, the work itself suggests the artistic potential for the next. My work expresses and documents my life’s healing journey.