Sukhum paintings evoke inner and outer worlds

by Dennis Dalman

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Pamela Sukhum, a 1989 graduate of Sartell High School, changed careers in 2003 when she fell so much in love with painting that she quit her job as a cardiovascular health and electrophysiology researcher at the University of Minnesota.

His dazzling paintings have been exhibited around the world. Fifty-nine of them are now on display at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Reedy Gallery in Chaska. The show, dubbed “Hymns to Nature”, kicked off on September 8 and will run until November 7. On October 7, she will give a lecture in the auditorium of the arboretum. This is Sukhum’s first show in Minnesota in seven years.

“I’m so excited to share my work with people from my home state of Minnesota,” she said in an interview with the Newsleader. “This show is like a homecoming for me.”

Sukhum’s paintings, inspired by nature, are radiant bursts of color and movement that shimmer and vibrate with vibrant color and a burst of texture. Many shine with luminous light, like stained glass. Some border on abstraction and even look like cosmic telescopic views of objects in space, but all are rooted in the earthly world of nature – fields, grasses, evergreens, flowers.

Sukhum said his paintings are inspired by experiences gained from his travels around the world – from monasteries in Tibet to refugee camps in Africa.

When Sukhum got into painting full time nearly 20 years ago, it was a bold leap. Although she barely had enough money for a month’s rent, she moved into a downtown Minneapolis studio to fully immerse herself in her new passion: painting. In the studio, she began to paint, paint and paint again. Although she had to make a living, she eventually achieved great success and rave reviews.

Sukhum, a “part-timer” at Sartell, also owns art studios in Minneapolis; Crestone, Colorado; and Bangkok, Thailand, the country of his parents. Her family moved to Sartell in 1985, but her father and mother later returned to Thailand. Her father is a cardiologist, her mother an expert in the world of finance.

Sukhum lives in Sartell part of the year with her husband, Ben, who helps her run her painting business. They live in the Pine Point neighborhood north of Sartell, home to many other artists Sukhum admires so much, such as painter Judith Bergerson and potter Peder Hegland.

Sukhum’s paintings are part of the collections of numerous art galleries in North America, Canada and elsewhere in the world. She has won numerous awards and won many honors including the Director’s Choice Award at Art Expo New York. Sukhum and his paintings were the subject of an Emmy-nominated film produced by the Public Broadcasting System.

His works are also in the corporate collections of companies such as Medtronic, Ernst & Young, Novartis and Deloitte and Clifford Chance Worldwide, based in Dubai in the Middle East.

Sukhum strongly believes in sharing art in person with others, to help them see the visionary beauties and possibilities of inner and outer worlds. One of the ways she interprets her sharing is her live “painting performances”, including one to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul.

In 2006, Sukhum started a non-profit organization called “The Beautiful Project”. It’s a way for her to share her passion for art with others and a way to help people use art as a healing and empowering force in their lives. “The Project” has worked with people in eight countries, including children in refugee camps in Africa and in more than 20 US cities.

Sukhum’s mission statement is: “As an artist, I wish to celebrate our inner and outer worlds and our common humanity.”

To learn more about Sukhum’s exhibit and October 7 presentation at the Arboretum’s Reedy Gallery, visit

To see more of Sukhum’s paintings and watch her paint, visit her website at

contributed photo
Pamela Sukhum shows off some of her cheerfully colored paintings. Some border on cosmic abstractions but are still rooted in the earthly world of plants and flowers.
contributed photo
This painting by Pamela Sukhum, titled Amethyst Fields, is a radiant swirl of lilies and stems that is a visual symphony of movement and color.
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