What really hit me in that very different culture —what was outrageous — were the colors. There were no rules, and having grown up in Germany, I had all these rules about colors in my head: you cannot wear orange with red; you cannot wear dots and stripes together and so forth and so on. My very fashionable and elegant mother had taught me the rules well, and, of course, I had believed that these were not just my mother’s rules or fashion’s dictates; they seemed to be rules made by God himself. These people obviously did not know the rules. There were colorful and patterned textiles, paintings on tree bark, paintings on pots, incredible rugs everywhere. There were stripes and dots and embroidered animals, enormous flowers of black velvet and nylon with green and yellow, all the colors you could imagine and they could all be combined in one skirt or one blouse. And they looked beautiful!
Between the fireworks and patriotic drunkenness on Mexico’s Independence Day on September 15th, I met my future husband, Gabriel Suarez, and all my life up until then fell apart. I had to reconstruct the mosaic of my entire life anew. It was wonderful to love and feel loved by Gabriel, but as every day went by, I missed Germany. One night, feeling lonely and sad, I discovered some brushes and colors on my husband’s desk. As I did not have anything else to do I sat down and started painting. I found I could express everything in a painting and the person who saw it could maybe understand me without any words. Having a blank sheet of paper, a brush and some colors I was free and able to create whatever world I wanted.
Over the years I have printed thousands of etchings and sold hundreds of original paintings. I am constantly surprised at this unexpected success and thankful for the fact that I have, evidently, found a language in which to communicate with others without any words.
When our children started their own independent lives, my husband went back to his passion for photography and we started traveling. In 2005 and 2006 we traveled to Africa, through the Southwest of the USA and parts of Canada. It was the time of good digital cameras which allow you to easily delete whatever you don´t like of your photographs! This fact seduced me to experiment with a SONY Cybershot camera.
Some photographs lured me to play around with them in Photoshop and some amazing images resulted: digital art! They completely surprised me as they are often abstract and in a very different style from my other paintings. Sometimes I also incorporate my drawings.
For all of 2007 we have been traveling in Africa. It was impossible for me to not photograph the incredible landscapes, wild animals and traditional peoples who we passed by. My husband is a patient teacher and so I keep learning more about photography every day.
Even though I am a painter, I did not know anything about light before taking my first shots with a camera. In my kind of painting I put the light wherever and however I want it. Taking up a camera is a completely different issue. I have had to learn slowly how the camera sees so very differently from the human eye and I keep being amazed at this.
My father used to tell me every day: enjoy this moment, it will go and never return! Later in life I got into Buddhism, which constantly reminds us of impermanence. I really came to understand my father and impermanence when I started photographing landscapes. Sometimes we drive in the car. My husband or I discover beautiful light on a special landscape. We stop the car, take our tripods and cameras out, and rush to the spot which seems to be the best one and when all this is accomplished: the light is gone! You can wait there or return the next day or next year and will never find it exactly the same again. Each moment is unique in between all the moments that will ever be in the universe. You catch it with your consciousness and live it or you have lost it forever! And sometimes you manage to pin the image of one into the sensor of your camera!
Since 1979 we have run a gallery San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. We have shown the artwork of more than 200 artists there, but today we just exhibit our own artwork.