My Heart’s a Little Fast: Paintings by Susanna Bluhm

Humboldt State University’s First Street Gallery will exhibit new paintings by alumna Susanna Bluhm (’98) Oct. 2 to Nov. 4.

Titled My Heart’s a Little Fast, but Otherwise, Everything’s Fine: New Paintings by Susanna Bluhm, the exhibit blends the Los Angeles native’s works in abstraction and representation to create landscape environments designed to engage the viewer’s imagination and emotions.

Bluhm utilizes many art materials, including, oil, acrylic, gouache, pencil, and colored pencil to create her drawings and paintings. Her style is painterly, incorporating a variety of painting techniques that selectively flatten and expand the depth of her environments. She avoids injecting deliberate narrative meaning into her work, instead preferring the viewer to have a subjective reaction from the act of looking. When creating these liminal spaces, she hopes to arouse the “sensations of things that might happen in a place, such as weather, touch, landscape, temperature, sex, or noise.” These paintings are intended to inspire personal interpretations by the viewer.

Now living with her family in Seattle, Bluhm has exhibited her art nationally and internationally, including exhibitions in Berlin, Dublin, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington D.C.

After earning her B.A. degree in studio art at Humboldt State in 1998, Bluhm went on to earn her MFA in Painting from University of Illinois.

The titles of her work often catch the attention of viewers with for literary and poetic appeal. For example, one painting in the exhibition is titled His eyes are like doves beside springs of water, bathed in milk. The title is drawn from the poem The Songs of Songs of Solomon in the Old Testament. The painting is not a literal depiction of the poem, but rather Bluhm’s own personal interpretation—expressing her love for her family.

Bluhm will present a free slide lecture about her art on Friday, Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. at HSU’s main campus in Arcata in Room 102 of the Art Building.

First Street Gallery will host a reception for the artist on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. during Eureka’s Arts Alive program. The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. and located at 422 First Street. Admission is free.

Those planning group tours are encouraged to call ahead; dial 707-443-6363 or visit the gallery’s website at