photo: Margie O'Loughlin

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Martha Bird is a Minneapolis-based artist who specializes in traditional and sculptural basketry.  Her education weaves into her artistic practice:

  • Board Certified Holistic RN

  • Public Health Nurse

  • Masters degree in Human Development  


She exhibits her art both locally and nationally.

Martha has been creative most of her life.  A curious artist, she alternates basketry with other mediums to explore the world around her.  In 1994, Martha enrolled in a basket class.  She fell in love with the materials and wove her way into activity and health after a back injury, two years of prescribed bed rest, and a bout of serious depression.  In presentations, Martha uses her life experience and research to highlight the health benefits of creating art and to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Martha is a proud member of the Avivo ArtWorks Collective

"I love Martha’s mixing of willow and reed — they make a real statement!”

— Flo Hoppe, internationally known basketmaker, author and teacher

“Her innate aesthetic sense and attention to detail make each a work of art.”

— Wendy DePaolis, Curator Art and Sculpture, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum


MA in Human Development, St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis MN; Focus: Holistic Health, 2002
BS, with Distinction, Nursing, University of Wisconsin, Madison WI; Public Health Nurse; Certificate: Women’s Studies, 1987
Women’s Art Institute, St. Catherine University, St. Paul MN, 2018
Gallaudet University, Washington DC (proficient in American Sign Language), 1989

Solo Exhibitions
Basketry To Enhance Health, Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis MN 2019-2020

The Forest Breathes, Otter Tail County Historical Society, Fergus Falls, MN, 2019

Martha Bird: Listen, Kaddatz Galleries, Fergus Falls MN,  2019

Holistic Practice: A Nurse and Her Art, University of Minnesota, 2019
Weaving Wellness: Art, Community and Mental Health Resilience, MN History Center, St. Paul MN, 2018
Basket Medley, East Lake Library, Minneapolis MN, 2018
Finding Focus: Returning to a First Love, First Universalist Church, Minneapolis MN, 2017
Connections: A Solo Show from Martha Bird, Avivo ArtWorks, Minneapolis MN, 2016

Selected Group Exhibitions

Foot in the Door 5, Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN, 2020

Momentary Certainties, Eagan Art House, Eagan MN, 2020

Observation: The Human Form, Art Works, Eagan MN, 2020

Fine Arts Exhibition, MN State Fair, St. Paul, MN 2020

Observation: The Human Form, Art Works, Eagan MN 2020

Organized Chaos, Eagan Art House, online, 2020

Peace In the Home, Sabes and St. Paul JCC, online, 2020

THIS IS WOMEN'S WORK: The Women's Art Institute Class of 2018 Celebrates 20 Years, Howard Conn Gallery, Minneapolis MN, 2019-2020

inVISIBLE, UCare Health Plan and CIRCA Gallery, Minneapolis MN, 2019

What Is Forbidden, Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, St. Paul MN, 2019

More Basketry, Celebrating Our Community, Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center, Bowling Green KY, 2019

Art Works = More Than the Sum Of Its Parts, Art Works, Eagan MN, 2019
Whimsical Weaving, Association of Michigan Basketmakers, Bellaire MI, 2018
Works from the Women’s Art Institute, Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, St. Paul MN, 2018
Art in Bloom, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis MN, 2018
A Rare and Revealing Look at Mental Illness, History Theater, St. Paul MN, 2018
A Common Thread, Textile Center, Minneapolis MN, 2018
All Things Considered 9: Basketry in the 21st Century (touring exhibition), National Basketry Organization, Tacoma, WA; Layton, NJ; Boston, MA, 2017-18
To Really See (touring exhibition), Avivo ArtWorks, Minneapolis/Duluth MN, 2017-18

Divergent Offerings, The Show Gallery, St. Paul MN, 2017
Up Close: Artability Art Show & Sale, Great Hall, St. Paul MN, 2017
Anguish and Hope, Vine Arts Gallery, Minneapolis MN, 2017
Celebrating 20 Years: Minnesota Basket Weaver’s Guild, Textile Center, Minneapolis MN, 2017
More to Consider 2, National Basketry Organization, Kittredge Gallery, Tacoma WA, 2017
Art of Possibility: An International Art Show by Artists with Disabilities, Golden Valley MN 2017
Water’s Edge, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska MN, 2017    
Inauguration: Acts of Resistance, Acts of Kindness, Susan Hensel Gallery, Minneapolis MN, 2017

Awards and Recognitions

Creative Support Grant, Minnesota State Arts Board, 2021

Compassionate Community Leader Award, Avivo, Minneapolis MN, 2019

Anderson Residency, Red Wing MN, 2019

Artists in Community Award, Avivo, 2019

Artist Initiative Grant, Minnesota State Arts Board, 2019
Hinge Arts Residency, Fergus Falls MN, 2018
Merit scholarships: North Country Studio Workshops, Women’s Art Institute, John C. Campbell Folk School, Peters Valley School of Craft, 2017-20
Best Social Commentary—Medicine Basket, Artability, St. Paul MN, 2017
Braided Curves chosen as 1 of 40 out of 332 pieces to tour for a year with the National Basketry Organization, 2017

Works held in public and private collections in New York and Minnesota, including Minnesota Historical Society, Newark-Arcadia Historical Society, Willow Tree Healing Center and personal collections.    

Professional Memberships

National Basketry Organization

Minnesota Basket Weaver’s Guild

Minnesota Holistic Nurses Association

Avivo ArtWorks Collective

Other Relevant Experience/Community Service Projects

Teaching Artist Mentor, cultural exchange partnership with Lakota woman, Minneapolis, MN

Subject Matter Expert (SME) on Basketry, Scouts of America, 2018-2020

Panelist, Artist Initiative Grant (Visual Art), Minnesota State Arts Board, St. Paul MN, 2019

Teaching Artist, Nature Based Therapeutic Services, University of Minnesota, (touring MN basketry class), 2019 

Patrick Dougherty Sculpture-Building Volunteer, YouBetcha, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska MN, 2019

Instructional Support Staff, Occupational Therapy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN, 2019

Presenter, Basket Weaving for Healing PTSD in Veterans, Veterans Administration Health Care System, Minneapolis MN, 2019
Merit Badge Counselor (Basketry, Disability Awareness), Scouts BSA, 2019
Presenter, Reclaiming Basketry: Working through Stigma to Reach Creative Potential (touring US lecture). 2018-19
Staff/Presenter, School of Occupational Therapy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/Rochester MN, 2018-19
Curator/Artist/Speaker, Weaving Wellness: Art, Community and Mental Health Resilience, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul MN, 2018
PEG Access Television, Fergus Falls, MN screening Reclaiming Basketry: Working Through Stigma To Reach Creative Potential, 2018

Members In Print: Vessels, catalogue exhibit, National Basketry Organization, p5, juried by Jane Sauer, 2018
Grassroots Organizer, annual Mental Health Service, First Universalist Church, Minneapolis MN, 2017-18
Published writer on basketry, Association of Michigan Basketmakers and Irish Basketmakers Association (6 articles), 2017
Curator, Water’s Edge, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska MN, 2017
Co-Curator, Divergent Offerings, Avivo ArtWorks Collective and Women’s Art Resources of MN (WARM), St. Paul MN, 2017
All Things Considered 9: Basketry in the 21st Century, catalogue of exhibition, National Basketry Organization, p.44, juried by Lloyd Herman, 2017


Gallery Affiliation

Art Force, Minneapolis MN

© 2021 Martha Bird

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Martha is a recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant (2019) and the Creative Support for Individuals grant (2021).