Western Wild…or How I Found Wanderlust and Met Old Shatterhand

Artist and filmmaker Martha Colburn makes short films known for being handmade, personal, crafted, intimate and angsty.

Artist Bio

Western Wild… or how I found Wanderlust and met Old Shatterhand is a densely textured documentary about a filmmaker making a film about the famed German author Karl May. The film weaves through a mixture of stop motion animation, interview, travelogue and biography that itself is enough to generate sensory Wanderlust. Western Wild… premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2018.

Award Year



Martha Colburn

Gettysburg, PA

Artist and filmmaker Martha Colburn grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania. Her works are known for being handmade, personal, crafted, intimate teenage angsty stories. Colburn began working with film in the ’90s when she acquired a used projector and began splicing found footage into her works. Now, she works for years on a single project, and her films result from intensive research and meticulously rendered stop-motion animations that include photography, collage, and painting, lending them an intimate, handmade quality. The artist’s vibrant imagery can belie the seriousness of the themes she addresses, which include America’s history of war and violence, and crystal-meth addiction in rural areas.

Colburn received a BA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art and Design in Baltimore, and began her filmmaking career making various Super 8mm and 16mm films. Colburn has attended art residencies at The Royal Academy of Visual Art in the Hague, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. Her films are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and her film Triumph of the Wild is permanently on show at the Military History Museum in Dresden, Germany.