After graduating from The Art Institute of Chicago in 1962, Martha Hayden traveled to Europe on a fellowship and continued her studies at the Schule des Sehens  in Salzburg, Austria with the renowned Expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka. For her work there, she was honored with the school’s most prestigious award.

Afterwards she continued to travel, paint, and study the work in museums throughout Europe, spending time in Austria, Italy, Spain and France before returning to the United States and later traveling to paint in Mexico.

Today Martha divides her painting time between New York City and southern Wisconsin, but also explores new perspectives by traveling and participating in artists’ residencies in other regions. Her most recent U.S. residencies were at the Montana Artists Refuge, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of Taos, New Mexico, and at I-Park, in East Haddam, CT. In Spring 2004 and 2006 she was invited by the Maryland Institute of Art, College of Design to paint at Chateau Klots, Rochefort-en-terre, Brittany, France. In 2008 she painted at Moncontour in Brittany, and had fellowships at Cill Rialaig, Ballinskellig, Ireland, and at The Museum of the Center of Europe, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Her work has been widely exhibited. She has participated in shows at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Milwaukee Museum of Art, The National Academy Museum in New York City, The Wustum Museum in Racine, Wisconsin, the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown Ohio, the El Paso (TX) Art Museum, and many others.

Martha’s work has also been shown in one-person exhibits at Dartmouth College, the Reggio Gallery in New York City, The Chicago Public Library, and in Wisconsin at The West Bend Museum , Beloit College, The Wustum Museum in Racine, and Bradley and Peltz Galleries in Milwaukee. She had an exhibition at La Guardia College in New York City in 2008.

Her mural in the Beloit Municipal Building (6 x 92 feet) is Wisconsin's largest landscape painting.

She is included in many public collections, including the Museo do Arte Moderno, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and The Brooklyn Museum and The Smithsonian. Corporate collections include those of Amoco, GTE, Ameritech, and Frito-Lay.

Martha Hayden's work has won more than 50 awards and has been exhibited in over 450 regional and national museum and gallery exhibitions.