Working as an actor, director, costume designer, and visual artist, Martha Stookey has been active on the Bay Area art scene for 50 years. As one of the first graduates of the fledgling UC Davis theatre department, she was involved in every aspect of stagecraft: acting and directing, but also sewing, painting, woodwork, and metalwork. In her early thirties, living with her young family in the French Pyrenees, Martha drew daily the scenes of rural life around her. A deposit of clay near the house led to conversations with local potters and she began sculpting some of the people she had drawn. Back home in San Francisco, she continued working in clay and other media, joining Thousand Fingers, an artists’ cooperative on Castro Street, as well as exhibiting in local galleries. Her work was featured in display windows at Joseph Magnin’s and can be found in private collections in San Francisco, New York, and Hawaii.
In 1979, Martha joined the faculty of the French American International School, founding a theatre program that explores world theatre traditions and recognizes the equal importance of visual and performing disciplines in this collaborative art. Her continuing education during the following 30 years included classes in color theory, drawing, watercolor, woodworking, and mask-making, along with performance classes. In 2006, Martha retired from teaching, taking charge of costuming for the now large and busy theatre program as well as designing for several San Francisco-based theatres. Her interest has been in working in intimate venues, where detailed painted decoration can be appreciated close-up. Especially enjoyable has been working with the Theatre of Yugen, continuing her fascination with Japanese art and theatre. Meanwhile, Martha continues to work in watercolor and acrylic. Her paintings hang at the Blue Heron Gallery in Point Roberts, Washington.