Silvermine Guild Art Center, 1037 Silvermine Rd., New Canaan. Gallery hours are Wed. to Sat., noon to 5 p.m. & Sun., 1 to 5 p.m. Exhibit runs through Feb. 20. (203) 966-3700, www.silvermineart.org.
Her current exhibition, on view at the Silvermine Guild Art Center, is inspired by the short stores of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.
“It’s not necessarily an illustration to his story,” she says, “but it is something that’s in the story. It can be just a dream that he describes and only that dream within the story triggers an image for me.”
Born in Germany, Hillmer moved to the U.S. to study art (“because I think there are more opportunities to realize your dreams here,” she says). She earned a degree in art history from the State University of New York in Purchase, taking classes in painting, photography and drawing as well.
Hillmer describes her work as different from that of other photographers in that she doesn’t look for a framing in the camera. “It’s more of a mental process where the framing happens in the mind,” she explains. “And I do a collage process where there’s more than one photograph coming together. I join them fairly seamlessly so that they can look like just it’s one, but there is a lot going on behind it.”
Hillmer’s fascination with collage began at an early age. “Even as a very young person — I think six or seven — I made a three-dimensional collage, a whole town with a harbor, airport, trains and everything. … This little town started to grow from a small square maybe a foot by a foot and it became enormous. We had no more room in the house — we had to put it in the attic.”
Hillmer’s Silvermine exhibition, “Infinity & Dreams,” expresses the artist’s fascination with infinity and time. Borges’ stories have similar themes.
“[H]e deals with the concept of time, which had already been entering my art before I became aware of him,” says Hillmer. “I used elements like the labyrinth, the mirror, the infinite space, timepieces like clocks and other measuring instruments.” Hillmer was delighted to discover the same elements in Borges’ writing. “I thought, ‘Oh my God! Here is a writer who I have so much in common with.’ That’s why I took so immediately to his work.”
After reading a story a few times over, Hillmer created her own visual scenery.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Borges’ death, and Hillmer hopes that this exhibition will inspire people to rediscover his work. ”At the same time, I hope that they enjoy my work as well in its own fantasy or surreality and its own storytelling, where I bring my own self into it.”