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Meet Martha Friend in Somerville

Today we’d like to introduce you to Martha Friend.

Martha, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was a professional photographer for years but always had an interest in assemblage art and collage. I left my photography career as my 3 children were growing up because so much of my photo work was on weekends and I was missing out on family life. I earned my MSW in my late 40’s and worked as a teacher and social worker in public schools for 15 years before retiring 3 years ago. I then started devoting all my free time to being an artist.

I love working with found materials and have a huge basement studio filled with a gorgeous collection of rusty farm implements, sea shells, driftwood, vintage ceramics, old dolls, broken lamps, costume jewelry, religious statues, plastic dinosaurs, printed ephemera, and a million other treasures. I build dioramas (large and small), wall pieces, and a wide variety of assemblages.

After retiring 3 years ago, I wanted a big project to get absorbed in and decided to build the Emerald City out of green glass in my back yard. It took months to complete but has survived 2 winters and stands about ten feet tall, filling a large area in the corner of my yard. I have since built Sapphire City in my front yard and Ruby City next to the driveway! I’m always working on new ideas for outdoor installations on my property. My house, a large Victorian on a busy main road, is heavily decorated and has become a landmark in Somerville.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The struggles have been primarily finding enough time to work and still not neglect other important parts of my life. My husband and I have traveled a lot since I’ve retired, I continue to teach English as a Second Language in my community, and family and friends are important to spend time with.

Please tell us about Martha Friend, Artist.
What sets me apart from other local artists (and there are hundreds in Somerville!) is my willingness to decorate the outside and inside of my home so profusely. I participate in Somerville Open Studios every year and open up my home to the public where I offer my work for sale but also I offer the opportunity for people to tour the outside installations and all of my collections inside. I collect the work of other artists as well as “things”-I have big collections of vintage globes, homemade dolls, Mexican and South American folk art, and all kinds of other things. The house if a lot of fun to tour.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Just one?! Hard to choose. But I grew up in rural NH on a chicken farm with 6 siblings, and we had a great childhood roaming the woods and fields, building forts, catching snakes, all that sort of thing. Storms would knock out the electricity and we’d have to light old kerosene lamps to see. It all seemed like such fun. The pigs would escape their pen and men from the town would gather to go corral them. My father would hire old codgers to go into the woods and cut firewood and we would get to ride on these old horse drawn wagons. I felt like a little frontier girl.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 135 Highland Av., Somerville, MA 02143
  • Website:
  • Phone: 617 642 1051
  • Email:

Image Credit:
All images are credited to Martha Friend

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. Paul Lombino

    July 5, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Martha always amazes.

  2. Marie Chaplin

    July 5, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    I’ve circled your wonderful home, Martha, with my cousin Ruth Meglio. Fun, interesting and an adventure; a feast for the eyes! Some day, I’ll have time to go inside, I hope! 💕💐💥🎼🦋🌺

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