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.
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.
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 heidibrueckner.com.
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 202224 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.
When was the first time you felt like you were an artist?
I still don’t know if I feel like one but see question #5!
What would you say is the underlying thread that connects your work?
My work at its core is about humankind’s understanding of itself.
What is the most satisfying part of your practice?
Finishing the last 20% of a successful painting can be quite euphoric for me. It is a combination of very hard work but with a lower stress level and excitement that something is about to be born.
Tell us about a turning point in your artistic journey and/or career.
During my college junior year abroad in Europe, a major priority of mine was to visit as many museums as I could, and I did. The experience was so inspiring that I realized my whole calling in life was art. I had finally discovered and admitted that making art was my passion and really the only option for me going forward.
If you could show your work anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
The Guggenheim or the Met in NYC, or the Tate Modern in London. I have had some of the most powerful art viewing experiences of my life in these places.