Martha Stone is our weekends operations manager here at the Griffin Museum. Her multifaceted artistic talents often go unseen when most people see her working her day job. But in our Griffin State of Mind interview we peel back the front desk you often see in front of her and Martha showed us what creativity and thoughtfulness lies behind her hobbies and personal artwork.
Martha’s work is featured in a permanent collection at Delloitte and Touche in Boston and in private collections throughout the United States and Europe.
Describe how you first connected with the Griffin. How long have you been part of the Griffin team and please describe your role at the Griffin.
I worked for Paula Tognarelli in the 1990’s when we were both employed by a commercial printer. After spending the early 2000’s concentrating on my artwork as a painter and a good portion of my time living in Italy, I reconnected with Paula.
At the time I was ready to return to working outside of my studio and she suggested I come to the Griffin Museum as an intern. Little did I know that I would become the Weekend Manager and Director of Visitor Services for over ten years. It has been a wonderful experience to have great colleagues, see an amazing variety of exhibitions, meet photographers and develop friendships with members.
What is one of your favorite exhibitions shown by the Griffin.
I have seen many high-quality exhibitions at the Griffin, so it is difficult to choose only one. As a painter of landscape, I was very drawn to the “Voice of the Woods” by Koichiro Kurita. The exhibition was derived from a larger project commemorating the 200 year anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau. The photographs were taken at Walden Pond using the method of Henry Fox Talbot, a contemporary of Thoreau. The work is quiet, ethereal and mesmerizing.
How do you involve photography in your everyday? Can you describe one photograph that recently caught your eye?
Although I enjoy looking at photography and can be moved and inspired by it, I am unable to make a decent photograph. I take snapshots of scenes and objects as reminders for use in my paintings.
On a recent morning I heard an interview with one of our members, Edward Boches, who curated the website, Pandemic Boston, as a visual documentation of the Covid-19 outbreak. I immediately viewed the website and was struck by the unique perspectives of the six photographers, Edward Boches, Lou Jones, Margaret Lampert, Jeff Larason, Coco McCabe and Juan Murray; each captured palpable images of pandemic life ranging from quiet isolation to heroism.
What is one book, song, or other visual obsession you have at the moment?
“Michelina’s Letter” edited by Victor Pisano is a collection of the memories of my sculptor friend’s mother, who was born in 1901 and immigrated to the United States from Italy in 1919. She was a self-taught writer, feminist, wife, mother and a designer of fine women’s clothing.
I was impressed by her strength and determination, while amazed at how closely her story parallels some of today’s difficulties traversing the discrimination of immigrants, equal rights for all and the 1918 Spanish Influenza.
What is your favorite place to escape to in nature…mountains? beach? woods? and why?
I cannot last too long without visiting the sea as it provides me with an expansive sense of tranquility. Having lived a number of years in the hills of Chianti, Italy, I immediately feel at peace when I return.
What has been the most eye opening part of our time of physical distancing?
The absence of touch has been difficult. No hugs!
If you could be in a room with anyone to have a one on one conversation about anything, who would that person be and what would you talk about?
My late husband was an artist and a political activist. I would love to know what he would have to say about the current state of our country and the world. It would be a joy to walk together through a museum and continue the dialogue we shared while looking at art.