Hillmer, Karin

Karin Hillmer, New York, USA

Karin Hillmer was born and raised in Germany. Already early in life she began experimenting with collages which later extended to her photographic process. After graduating with diplomas in French and English, she left Germany for a brief stop in Brussels and then settled in London. It was there that she reconnected with her earlier interest in art, finding inspiration in the halls of great museums and obscure galleries alike. Then her determination brought her to New York, where she felt that she had greater opportunity to accomplish her goals. In New York, she studied Art History and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the State University of New York (SUNY Purchase). At that time she also took studio classes in painting, drawing and black and white photography. It was then that she developed her own collage-style within the medium of photography. For the first several years, her images were created in black and white until she switched to color in the 1990s.

In numerous post-graduate studies she complemented her knowledge in various disciplines. Thanks to her natural curiosity and perpetual experimentation she mastered the technique of the fragmented images by using glass plates to create unexpected reflections and multiple layers of surfaces. She paints with watercolor on glass and combines that with cut out words, figures and forms. Objects began to take on their own certainty and new realities were created in an unreal universe. Through her business knowledge in the fields of technology and biotechnology she brings novel concepts and developments to her work, which are combined in a unique way with historic elements. She is a painter, a photographer and above all a storyteller. Her pictures represent a new reality, maybe“surreality”, shaped by lifelong interest in philosophy, history, art, invention, music and science. Her images combine the avant-garde with the historic, have a deep intellectual reference, are enigmatic and humorous, mysterious and original, combine Renaissance and technology, genetics and Botticelli. Today Karin Hillmer has embraced digital photography which provides almost no restrictions to her creativity. This new expression is only limited by the imagination of the artist and the expertise of using the technology.

Her images are printed with ultrachrome archival inks on archival papers which are expected to last over 100 years. Her work has been shown internationally in museums and galleries, with solo exhibitions in Germany, France and the United States. Karin’s work can be found in numerous private collections throughout the world. The most recent acquisition of her work was made by the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Connecticut, USA.

Citing my favorite early Greek philosopher Heraclitus, creation and development evolve in a space between polarized energies. Every thing needs its opposite to be. You cannot truly define light without understanding darkness. Consider the circle as it reaches completion by harmonizing the Yin and the Yang energies. My images too, draw their strengths from complementary sources. While stepping out into the world to capture photographs reflects the Yang energy, my thought process and the research that I engage in for each photo-montage represent its counterpart to complete the whole. With a degree in Art History and formal training in drawing, painting and photography, I approach the creation of a photograph from the perspective of both a painter and a photographer. A vague idea of the image is formed in the mind first before it is further explored with pictorial elements to arrive at the fínal outcome, the photo-montage. The process of creation represents a journey, a journey both into the world and into my mind and soul. The course of discovery can take me across countries, back to different stages in life and all the way back into childhood. Symbols. which were created along the path of life. Retum in the form of objects, paper fragments, colors or words to populate my images. Events that impressed or intrigued me are taken up again and are explored in new ways. It may be that this kind of seeing, when looking through the camera, revives those thoughts and feelings that came quite naturally to us when we were young. Then the thing we were playing with was experienced truly as itself; it was fresh and new, seen for the very fist time. In those moments nothing matters but the creative journey itself.

During the Renaissance in Italy, the Greek and Latin classics were considered the absolute spring of all knowledge. Long forgotten during the Middle Ages. when the focus was on the afterlife. the classics dignified the value of man and his contribution to a better life on earth. Think about the sense of excitement and joy the humanists must have felt by rediscovering the treasures of the classic past. My image "There was joyous laughter when she entered the orb again" can be considered as the moment when humanity turns its back to the Middle Ages and is drawn to the light of knowledge. But then, knowledge in and of itself may be useless unless we discover its true meaning. This concept is pondered upon in the image „Again the poet questions the wisdom we have lost in knowledge".

With an idea in mind. my photographs and photographic fragments of objects are moved about in the "digital darkroom". They are juxtaposed with other visual elements to take on a new identity reflecting a dream, a memory or a thought that is foremost on my mind. These conceptions evolve within a field of polarities, a field of tension, where an active shape plays the same important role as the passive space surrounding it. I explore opposite forces through reality and illusion, light and shade. Pictorial depth and flat surfaces, an inter-play of complementary colors, the painterly aspect versus photography. These opposing forces dramatize the energy streaming forth from the image and it becomes a much deeper experience. The titles for my photographs are chosen to give another dimension to the overall artistic expression. Often they provide a hint of the underlying "story" of the work of art. I invite you, the viewer, to engage into a dialogue with my photographs, to explore this journey and to fínd your own personal experience along the way.

Karin Hillmer, New York, 2005


2012 “Infinity & Dreams: Photographs by Karin Hillmer inspired by the short stories of J.L. Borges” with an introduction by Prof. Andrew Hurley Infinity & Dreams – exhibition catalogue