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, Spectrum 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, arts organizer, teaching artist and arts advocate.
One of her sculptural baskets was chosen by Lloyd Herman, former founder and curator of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, to tour for a year from Seattle to Boston (July 2017-June 2018) with the National Basketry Organization’s All Things Considered 9: Basketry in the 21st Century exhibit. Her work has been described by the NBO 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.
I want my creations to 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. I want my work to express and document my life’s healing journey.