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Artist Heidi Brueckner

Heidi Brueckner is a Professor of Art at West Valley College in Saratoga, CA where she has taught painting, drawing, and design for over 20 years.

A native Californian, Brueckner studied at the University of Heidelberg and The Goethe Institute in Germany in the late 1980s. During this pivotal year, she visited the major museums of Europe and found herself heavily influenced artistically by 20th century German art.

Brueckner received a BA in Fine Art and a BA in Art History from University of California, Santa Cruz in 1991. She received an MFA in Painting from University of Kansas in 1997.

Professor Brueckner’s work has been shown at museums, galleries, colleges, and in publications nationally and internationally. She has received many awards and scholarships for her work. In 2018, she published the book “Monsterbet”, based on a series of 26 satirical oil, acrylic, and mixed media paintings spoofing the format of a children’s alphabet book. The book is available for purchase at Etsy, Amazon, and at her website

Brueckner has won 12 first place awards among others in 20-21, which include the Italian International Prisma Art Prize and the Faber Birren Color Award, and has participated in over 100 juried shows. Recent 2022 solo shows include Buckham Gallery in Flint, MI; Abington Art Center in Jenkintown, PA; Gearbox Gallery in Oakland, CA; East Central College Art Gallery in Union, MO; and O’Hanlon Center for the Arts, Mill Valley, CA (4 person). Upcoming solo exhibitions in 2022 24 include Women United Art Movement, Online; Crossing Arts Alliance in Brainerd, MN; Kirkland Art Center in Clinton, NY; Delaplaine Arts Center in Frederick, MD; Grants Pass Museum of Art in Grants Pass, OR; and Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, LA.

She currently lives and works in Oakland, California.

Inherently, we are interested in observing others as a way of understanding ourselves and our species. My work is inspired by this desire to understand, and allows the viewer to be a part of the observation. Being human is a combination of external and internal factors such as personality, appearance, actions and interactions. I use both archetypes and portraits as a way to study human nature and its relationship to storytelling.

I consider these portraits to be individualistic narratives which explore personage through self-presentation, facial expressions, and gesture. The work often inspects the under-revered, and appreciates the subject’s presence and dignity, giving pause to honor the person.

I have an assertive aesthetic, and I’ve discovered that the color seems to be used as a kind of “equalizer” in terms of how people are depicted. Because the color is divorced from naturalism, skin color is therefore eliminated, which for me is metaphorical for the hope that society aspires to and achieves equality among races and other kinds of human differences as well. The work is meant to honor the entirety of humanity—not just one section of the population or kind of person.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the arts.

I am a native Californian and grew up in the southern part of the state in the college town of Claremont. I moved north when I went to college at University of California, Santa Cruz where I received a BA in Fine Art and a BA in Art History in 1991. During that time I also took a year abroad at the University of Heidelberg when I was able to visit the major museums of Europe and became heavily influenced artistically by 20th century German art. After college, I moved to San Francisco and have been living in the Bay Area ever since, with the exception of 3 years away for graduate school at the University of Kansas in Lawrence where I received an MFA in Painting in 1997. I am currently a Professor of Art at West Valley College in Saratoga, CA, where I’ve taught painting, drawing, and design for over 20 years.

What kind of work are you currently making?

My work is at its core is about how humankind strives to understand itself through studying human nature and it’s relationship to storytelling. The work is currently taking form with large-scale figurative portraits focused on individualistic narratives. With some of these works, I've been experimenting with texture and the physical quality of the surface through using alternative recycled materials such as pieced-together recycled bubble mailers and paper bags. I've found them to be exciting and sturdy surfaces and believe these media add a uniquely interesting and environmentally friendly component to the work.

What is a day like in the studio for you?

My studio is in my house and it’s a nice space that’s a bit rough around the edges but extremely convenient! My days in the studio are drastically different. I try to get into the studio every day but it can be anywhere from 20 minutes to 7 or 8 hours. It just depends on what’s happening with family and work commitments. Lately, I’ve been in this groove where I get up about 5am, drink some matcha, and get right into the studio for 3-4 hours. I generally always try something slightly new in each work whether it be materials, form, and/or content.

What are you looking at right now and/or reading?

I look at a lot of contemporary figurative painting, many of them women artists such as Jordan Casteel, Teresa Dunn, Hope Gangloff, and Jenny Saville.

I just picked up Hanya Yanagihara’s third book “To Paradise”. I’m excited to dig in because her previous books were remarkable. Her storytelling is complex and nuanced.

Where can we find more of your work?

Instagram: @heidi.brueckner Website:

Upcoming 2022-2024 Solo Exhibitions:

Women United Art Movement,, until 10/11/22

Crossing Arts Alliance, Brainerd, MN, March 2023

Kirkland Art Center, Clinton, NY, June/July 2023

Delaplaine Arts Center, Frederick, MD, September/October 2023

Grants Pass Museum of Art, Grants Pass, OR, August/September 2024

Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA, TBD 2024

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