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Work Samples

Col. Sanders Exploding

Col. Sanders
Col. Sanders exploding on ten hits of acid 14"x11" Gouache and ink on paper. Collection of Adolf Kowalski.

Gun Law

Gun Law
Gun Law. 12"x12" Oil on linen, from a photo in the New York Times. Before a new gun law passes, there is a run on guns and ammo.

Sanitary Fish Plate

Sanitary Sewer
22"x 30" Sanitary Sewer Fish Plate, Rubbings, gouache and stencil on papers.

Anthrax Guy

Anthrax Guy
Anthrax Guy 11x14" Gouache on collage, paper. I was painting this on a flight out of Las Vegas, chanting "Anthrax Guy, Anthrax Guy" repeatedly with my younger daughter when I noticed a the woman in the next seat taking notes on us.


About Martha

Baltimore City

I was born in Chicago and came to Baltimore to attend the Maryland Institute, College of Art. Sometimes political but often with humor, I work with paper, water based media, wood cuts and oil paint.  I treat recurrent themes influenced by patterns, multiples, and the urban environment. I was selected for a residency at A.I.R. Paducah, where I took rubbings of the city's hardscape elements, mostly manhole lids as non traditional landscapes. I made the Lucky Cat wood block because I felt I... more

The Works

This is a collection of buoyant, mostly happy pieces. Some of them feature poems written in, sometimes presented and sometimes obscured. Recurrent themes such as the goat and the chair by the side of the road are considered.

  • Elvis goes Baroque

    Elvis goes Baroque
    Elvis goes Baroque. 32"x32". Oil on linen. The King imagined spotlit in an abstracted, dramatic landscape.
  • Baltimore Oriole

    Baltimore Oriole
    5"x7" Gouache on paper. painting of a bird from a thrift store, retouched, you can discern baseballs as berries and a bat for a perch.
  • Feral Cat

    Cylburn Arboretum,
    Feral Cat . 11'X14" Gouache on paper. At Cylburn Arboretum, Janet and I have befriended a feral cat.
  • Sunrise over Fork, Maryland

    Sunrise over Fork, Maryland. 22" X 30" Watercolor, pastels, ballpoint pen and ADC map on paper. Although there really is a town called Fork in Maryland, the landscape is inspired by the author and illustrator, Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel).
  • The American Brewery

    The American Brewery. 22" X 30" Watercolor with crochet elements. This massive, Gothic hulk before the renovation made me so sad. For an old neighbor who talked to me as I looked at it, this old brewery represented a happier past. His father had delivered barrels of beer in a horse drawn cart. Some of the narrative is painted in. Collection of AK Haygood.
  • Annabelle

    Annabelle goat
    Annabelle. 22" X 30" Watercolor and gold leaf on paper. The pattern behind Annabelle, below, is from a radiator cover. Also featuring the patterns from pegboard and a cake stand. She lived at J-Mar stables in Monkton, MD. It reads: "Annabelle may be tiny, but she's an ornery old goat."
  • Anthrax Guy

    Anthrax Guy
    Anthrax Guy. 11x14" water color and ink on collage, painted on an airplane in flight.
  • Lilies

    The Lilies at the Rawlings Conservatory. 22"x30" gouache and ink on Indian Village paper. The conservatory is a good place to breathe healing plant gasses.
  • Gun Law

    Gun Law
    12"x12" Oil on linen. When a new gun control law is up for legistlation, the gun store gets crowded with people.
  • Thor's Company Casserole

    Thor's Company Casserole. 12"x 12" oil on linen.

The Works on Paper

Mixed media on watercolor paper. Patterns and collage elements including woodcuts. Grates, goats appear as recurrent themes.

  • Minnie Me

    Self Portrait with polka dots
    Minnie Me. 14"x11" Self portrait with polka dots. Gouache and ink on paper.
  • Window Shopping

    Window Shopping
    Window Shopping. 11" 14" gouache, inks, collage on papers. The cat stares fixedly out the window at birds he'd like to catch.
  • Goat in a Boat Spewing Noxious Effluent

    goat boat
    Goat in a Boat spewing noxious effluent, 14x11" Gouache and ink on paper. More material from the impoundment of my last Saab.
  • Agave

    Agave. 22" X 30" Pastel, gesso, ink, collage on paper. This magnificent plant resides in the Rawlings Conservatory.
  • Wrench

    Wrench 14" x 11". Woodcut and lace paper with a slice of cotton kimono, a ticket number, some poetry, collage on paper. More from the violation of the Saab.
  • Food Desert

    Food Desert
    Food Desert. 11"x 16.5" Gouache, ink on paper. I was riding the bus when out the window I saw a sign for a "pizza chicken breakfast". I was instantly hungry for one. What do you do when there are no grocery stores you can access?
  • Sanitary Fish

    fish lid
    Sanitary Sewer 22" X 30" Wax pastels rubbing, gouache on paper. There are manhole lids all over town that say "Sanitary Sewer". The oxymoron astounds me every time. The fish is an impression of a dinner plate.
  • Annabell Impounded

    goat rant
    Annabelle, Impounded. 14" X 11" Woodcut, collage on paper. Items of interest in this piece are the map, docs from the booting of my car and a part of an impression of the fence outside the Maryland Historical Society. There is also a brief rant on the lower right.
  • Fool

    April Fool
    Fool, 14x11" Gouache and ink on paper Is this foolish fellow offering a fish dinner or is he up to something more sinister? In France, the first of April is Fish Day.
  • Brain Storm

    brain storm
    Brain Storm 14" X 11" Woodcut, block print, collage on paper. The block prints and buttons depicts ideas bubbling in the creative process.

The Recent Works

The works in this section are wood cuts with collage on paper. Thematically, they mostly represent body parts. The empty chair has been a recurring symbol. It has many meanings, including waiting, loneliness and leadership. My life changed when I was diagnosed with stage four lung and brain cancer in January of 2016. It's been an uncertain adventure.

  • Meeting

    Meeting 8"x10" Woodcuts on collage with gouache and lace. Chairs set up for a community meeting.
  • Bird Brain

    bird brain
    14'X 11" Woodcuts, gouache painted detail on paper. I am represented by a bird contemplating life's choices. Where did I go wrong? I should never have made certain lifestyle choices-wallowing in self blame. My brain looms like a storm cloud.
  • Orchid Gasses

    14"X 11" Woodcut and ink stamps on paper collage. Seeking relief in the company of plants at the conservatory. I also walk around the arboretum in the Japanese therapy of Shinrin-yoku. This translates as forest bathing, I find it elevates my mood and is helpful for my blood pressure. Don't forget to smell the flowers!
  • Brain Blanket

    30"X 22" Above all, I have been seeking emotional support as suggested by the comforter/quilt theme. Besides comfort, to me the quilt also represents history and continuity, strengths to draw on as the world changes. The addition of lace suggests fabric throughout.
  • Chairs from the Side of the Road

    14"11" Woodcuts float in a gassy environment on paper. The chairs are not by the side of the road, but are suspended in uncertainty.
  • Kidney Wash

    14"X11" A mass found on my kidney is contemplated. A woodcut against a doily print and shelter symbols reflects washing and flushing the system.
  • Healing Rays

    22"X 30" My first course of treatment was radiation for tumors in my brain. My molecular journey is reflected on in the piece.The red crayon is for radiation. The blue mandala represents a spiritual quest.
  • Brain Clock

    Brain Clock
    Brain Clock 6.25x6" Papers and hardware on wooden cigar box. With glow in the dark hands, calculating the time.
  • Bacon Brain

    Bacon Brain 14X11" wood cut and painted elements on collage
  • Kidney Wash

    Kidney Wash 14x11" woodcut with lace and stamping, collage on paper They told me there was "a mass" on my kidney. I must drink plenty of fluids.

The Works on wood

When you have an idea or a dream, where do you put it? These are boxes "en assemblage" and flat compositions on boards. They may represent a nostalgic feeling, a memory or a snide comment. They may suggest a narrative, or illustrate a mystery.

  • A call to Arms

    not exactly found objects
    A Call to Arms. 12"x18.5" An alarm box with action figure arms and legs, flattened, punched beer can, game tile, bottle opener, rubbing, the old master key to the Main Building of the Maryland Instititute, College of Art, gold leafed plastic doll, hardware on wood. The beer can reads; "Inside the head of every sleeping man is a banging headache".
  • Empty Nest

    Empty Nest
    12"x 12"Empty Nest. Painted panel, lace, cigar box and collage on wood. Inside the box is plain text; In the dark I lamented Where on earth did the baby go? Summers fly in the blink of a cloudy eye, she grew up and moved away. I gave her a chair, a blanket, some kitchen ware and told her she’d find more chairs by the side of the road.
  • Il Carro

    Il Carro
    Il Carro,12"x 12" Transfer, relief print, cigar box and hardware on wood. This work was created for an invitational cigar box show with the theme of the Tarot. I chose "The Chariot". The background print of antique keys was created by affixing them to a board to create a relief printing block.
  • Il Carro interior

    Il Carro
    12"x12" Interior of Il Carro. Because my Fiat is secretly a rocket.
  • Melon Baller

    Melon Baller
    Melon Baller.12"x12" Painted photo transfer, lace, melon baller, hook and loop fastener, Japanese paper and hardware on wood. It comes with a spare melon baller!
  • Killer Squirrel

    Killer Squirrel
    12"x12". A filtered, painted photo transfer of a sculpture by Virginia Warwick, with stamped brass, hardware and toilet paper with Japanese paper on wood.
  • A Secret Life, exterior

    secret life
    12"x 12" Woodcut, painted element, lace and hardware on wood. Annabelle guarding some secrets.
  • A Secret Life, interior

    secret life
    A Secret Life, 12"x 12" interior. An apparent pie thief. Who's to blame?
  • I am but a Sock Puppet on the Hand of God

    I am but a Sock Puppet on the Hand of God
    I am but a Sock Puppet on the Hand of God.12"x 12" Painted photo transfer, lace, cigar box, papers and hardware on wood.
  • I am but a Sock Puppet on the Hand of God

    I am but a Sock Puppet on the Hand of God
    I am but a Sock Puppet on the Hand of God.12"x 12" Painted photo transfer, lace, cigar box, papers and hardware on wood. My older daughter Eleanor with an armadillo.

The Grates and Grills

Some works of grates and grills, exploring pattern in relief by taking rubbings and further working them in the studio. I find pattern meets function in the abstraction. Some of the patterns are very old, such as the Victorian heating grates. The telephone access lids are from the earlier part of the 20th century. If you look around, they are every where in the Baltimore environment.

  • Manhole, Purple

    22" X 30" Wax pastels and gouache on paper, mounted. This lid is by Saint Mary's Seminary on Roland Avenue. Some of Baltimore's more interesting manhole covers were installed by the phone company.
  • Grate and Grill

    grate, grill
    Grate and Grill 14" X 11" Wood cut, wax pastels, collage, watercolor on paper. Under the wood cut of the grill is an impression of the heating grate my husband gave me for my birthday.
  • Twin Valves

    Twin Valves 22" X 30" Wax pastels, gouache, collage on paper. The piece has the water coming and going. Intake and outflow, the infinite cycle.
  • Visions of Barbeques Past

    Visions of Barbeques past 11" X 14" Wood cut, wax pastels, collage on paper. Under the woodcut of the grill is an impression of the fence outside the Maryland Historical Society. The hand marbled paper has a stenciled accent.
  • Annabelle and Fish

    Annabelle, fish
    Annabelle and Fish 14" X 11" A woodcut of Annabelle on a Philadelphia heating grate as a fish flies over. This piece has been featured in a special Saatchi Online collection.
  • Heating Grate, Circles

    heating grate
    Heating Grate and Circles 22" X 30" Wax pastels, watercolor, ink on paper. This heat register is in the dining room of D. S. Bakker and Cynthia Sanders' historic house.
  • Manhole Lid, Orange

    Manhole Lid, Orange 22" X 30" Wax pastels, gouache on mounted paper This access lid is in Church Lane east of Roland Avenue.
  • Manhole Lid, Footprints

    Manhole Lid and Footprints 22" X 30" Collage, crayon, ink on paper. I started taking impressions of ironwork, fences, grates and access covers a few years ago to use as abstract compositional devices in my paintings. I also use them as non traditional landscape elements. This lid is over the storm drain down the street where I live.
  • Elvis ponders his Pants.

    Elvis Pants
    Elvis ponders his pants 30" X 22" Wax pastels, watercolors, collage on paper. Elvis is surrounded by pegboard dots and is framed by an impression of the register over the heating intake for the Main Building of the Maryland Institute, College of Art. The dragonfly is from hand blocked Indian paper.
  • Renee's Heating Grate

    Renee's Heating Grate 14" X 11" This is a photograph taken, Photo-shopped and sent to be printed from an IPhone.

Some More Works

Some patterns, multiples, manhole covers and miscellany. A collection of potted plants is imagined in different interior environments.

  • Manhole lid with Fish

    Fish Lid
    School System 22" X 30" Wax pastel rubbings on paper. In my search for patterns, I find some relief elements less abstract. These fish were rubbed from a restaurant plate. They float over a Sanitary Sewer lid in a suggestion of irony.
  • DPW Lid

    DPW Lid 22" X 30" Gouache and wax pastels on Thai paper. The paper this manhole lid has been rubbed onto has also been convincing as faux asphalt in another project. The piece has been mounted on 300lb. Fabriano paper.
  • Diner Plant

    Diner Plant
    Diner Plant 14" X 11" Woodcut, collage on paper. The swirls in the lace paper and the starburst pattern on the right, which reminds me of a mid-century modern linoleum counter top gives this piece a hipster feel.
  • Plant Sanctuary

    Plant Snctuary 14" X 11" Woodcut, rubbing, collage on paper. This plant lives in peace. The pattern behind the plant is from a ceiling panel while the one it sits on is from a truck step.
  • Cosmo Plant

    Cosmo Plant 14" X 11" Woodcut, lace, collage on paper. This plant hears talking in different languages all day. The lace suggests a household of refinement and detail.
  • Designer Plant

    Designer Plant 14" X 11" Woodcut, collage on paper. This plant lives in a home builder's sales model.
  • Plant Hero

    Plant Hero 14" X 11" Woodcut, collage on paper. Who is your plant hero? I imagine this as a healing plant with magical powers.
  • Plant Math

    Plant Math 14" X 11" Woodcut, gesso, water soluble crayon, ink on paper. This plant lives in a mortgage processor's office. It hears numbers being hissed all day as the processor talks to herself in a whisper.
  • Bioswale with Chair

    Bioswale with Chair 14"x 11" With a wood cut chair and lace, a bioswale is bisected. I found the landscape designer's plans floating in the wind in Druid Hill park.
  • Water Meter

    water meter
    22"x 30"Wax pastels and gouache on paper

The Residency

I was so thrilled at my selection but raising the money to fund my residency was a challenge. I learned to make a video on my Iphone to ask people for money with a Hatchfund project. I raised my target of 2,500 by selling art and posting on social media.

  • Twilight at A.I.R. Studio

    Digital Photograph The sun sets after the show. What a lovely time I had!
  • An Exhibit

    Digital Photograph. The front part of the old bakery has show windows and a reception space for entertaining patrons.
  • The work space

    Digital Photograph. The studio space is quite large, skylights provide bright, indirect light during the day. There's something about having room to stretch.
  • Telephone Access

    Digital Photograph. This lid is quite large and grand. I had butcher paper large enough wrapped around the fancy papers I had shipped.
  • Diamond Patterned Lid

    Digital Photgraph. I took this rubbing by a baseball field near the river in an older part of town.
  • Market Square

    Digital Photo. Market Square. Paducah looks a lot like Baltimore but smaller.
  • Drawing From The Landscape

    Digital Photograph. A view of my work in progress.
  • Tee shirts

    Digital Photograph I painted tee shirts to help raise funds. The rocket symbolizes the journey and the adventure, like The Chariot in Tarot.
  • The Hatchfund Video

    Video. I learned to make and edit a video on my IPhone to ask people for money with a Hatchfund project. I raised my target of 2,500 with this video and by selling art and posting on social media.
  • The Residence

    Digital photograph. A converted bakery in an historic district re-purposed for artist housing. The floor plan includes a large studio with lots of skylights, and a comfortable efficiency apartment. Outside I planted peppers in pots.

The Lucky Cats

Woodcuts on collage. The Lucky cat beckons good fortune to your home or business. The different colors have their own traditions, with yellow, or gold pertaining to wealth and green for medicine and education. While recently I have heard the term "Cultural Appropriation", I have also heard a friend counter that with "Source of Inspiration". I found the repetitive nature of this project to be quite meditative and relaxing.

  • lucky cat

    Celestial Lucky Cat 14x11" wood cut on collage. The white patterns on blue paper are rubbings of cut glass tableware.
  • Lucky Cat

    14" X 11" Woodcut, collage on paper. If you look closely at the sepia and white pattern on the right you will see tigers!
  • Lucky Cat

    lucky cat
    Lucky Cat 14x11' wood cut on collage
  • Lucky Cat

    14" X 11" Woodcut, collage on paper. The Japanese influence is felt with a metallic ginko leaf pattern and lace paper.
  • Lucky Cat

    14" X 11" Woodcut, collage on paper. A confluence of floral patterns.
  • Lucky Cat

    14" X 11" Woodcut, collage on paper. Drawn into with pencil and pastels, this Lucky Cat has been selected by Maryland Art Place for the December benefit.
  • Lucky Cat

    14" X 11" Woodcut, watercolor collage on paper. Tiny leaves are embedded in the pale green paper.
  • Lucky Cat

    14" X 11" Woodcut, collage on paper. Pink paper with bunnies.
  • Lucky Cat

    14" X 11" Woodcut, collage on paper. This piece features a print of a block I made with different sizes of buttons.
  • Lucky Cat Westside.jpg

    lucky cat
    Lucky Cat Westside 14x11" wood cut on collage

A.I.R. Studio Paducah

In May 2014 I had the honor of being chosen for a residency at A.I.R. Studio. It was a wonderful opportunity to be involved in an artists' community and have the time and space for my work. My proposal was to create a visual exploration of the grates and grills of Paducah, Kentucky as non traditional landscape elements. Paducah's old buildings remind me of the pressed brick and architectural flourishes we have in Baltimore.

  • Water Valve, Market Square

    Market Square
    Water Valve Lid22"X30" Mixed Media on Paper. This was first rubbed directly onto Thai paper and then mounted on 300lb. Fabriano. This water valve lid is in the oldest part of town. I have never seen one like this in Baltimore.
  • DPW Conduit

    DPW Conduit Cover 22"X 30" Paint, pastels on Thai paper, mounted. The contrast and angularity of the composition is a variation on the mandala theme.
  • Holiday in Paducah

    Holiday in Paducah 30'X22" Woodcuts, fabric, mixed media on paper. Paducah is home to the National Quilt Museum, an amazing collection with active, contemporary programming. I celebrated Memorial Day weekend with some barbeque and beer with new friends... it was so inspiring.
  • Water Meter Lid

    Water Meter Lid 22"X30" Mixed Media on Paper. This was first rubbed directly and then mounted on 300lb. Fabriano. This piece, featured in my video, was finished with watercolors and wet mounted during my residency. I got warmed up for my work by finishing up some relevant pieces.
  • Landscape seen from a Sancuary Window

    Landscape through a Sanctuary window 30"X 22" Mixed Media on Paper. A water valve becomes a planet in a strange sky over a rugged lanscape, the tracery evokes a church like environment.The repeating pattern is from a tin ceiling tile.
  • Flight Pattern

    Flight Pattern
    22"X30" Mixed Media on Paper. This was first rubbed directly and then mounted on 300lb. Fabriano. A phalanx of rockets travels toward a gas station test access cover in an inter-dimensional exploration.
  • Storm Sewer, Noble Park

    22"X30" Mixed Media on Paper. This was first rubbed directly and then mounted on 300lb. Fabriano This storm sewer access lid was forged at a local foundry. As with the others in this series, it was taken directly from the surface of the cover, worked into with paints and pastels, then wet mounted onto watercolor paper.
  • Reptile House, Water Valve Lid

    Reptile House, Meter Lid 22"X30" Mixed Media on Paper. I started this in Baltimore outside an abandoned Zoo building, I finished and mounted it for my show at the Residency.
  • Manhole, Old Town Paducah

    Old Town
    Manhole, Old Town Paducah 22"X30" Mixed Media on Paper.This was first rubbed directly and then mounted on 300lb Fabriano cold press. It was then worked into with paints and pastel. It has a dry texture that reminds me of a sand painting.
  • kimono rocket

    Kimono Rocket, 14x11" wood cut on fabric. Pahducah is the quilting capitol of the country, so they say, and many of the stores have fabric samples for sale. This background fabric came from an old kimono, with flowers suggesting the beauty of the galaxy.


Inspired by the Postal Art movement I would make hundreds of valentines a year and put them in the mail. I sent them to the mayor, my representatives, and local notables as well as people I know. Sometimes also their relatives. This year I have started making them again. More than once I got angry phone calls from jealous lovers who wanted me to explain myself. Spread the love.

  • Valentine173

    4.5"x 4.75" Asian papers, lace and glitter on book board.
  • Valentine175

    4.5"x 4.75" Asian papers, lace and glitter on book board.
  • Ant-love Valentine

    Valentine 4.5" X 4.75" Collage on book board. For tainted love.
  • Valentine 172

    Valentine, 4.5"x 4.75 Gollaged papers, lace and Glitter on book board.
  • Valentine

    Valentine 4.5" X 4.75" Collage on book board. This one came back in the mail.
  • val174

    4.75"x 5" Asian papers, lace and glitter on book board.
  • Valentine

    4.5" X 4.75" Collage on book board. I love the Japanese chrysanthemum paper.
  • Valentine

    Valentine 4.5" X 4.75" Collage on book board. Hairy Glitter!
  • Valentine

    Valentine 4.5" X 4.75" Collage on book board. Glitter!
  • Valentine177

    4.1"x 4.5" Asian papers, lace and glitter on book board.