After violence and upheaval forced Evelyn Alvarez to flee her homeland, the Colombian native is now living her dream in Germany’s capital of Berlin, turning tragedy into triumph, reported El Tiempo Thursday.
Evelyn fled Colombia in April 2000, much the like three million other Colombians did in the late 1990s and 2000s.
Unlike three million other Colombians however, Evelyn has found herself restoring art in one of Europe’s art capitals, and has been working on a Herculean project to create an underground space that will connect five museums, and house a new visitor’s center.
“We work on the underground [construction] and unification of the museums on the island, whose spaces will be expanded and integrated with a new visitor center called the James Simons gallery”, explained Evelyn.
More remarkable however, is that the underground space will also double as a work of art in its own right.
“The goal is to allow visitors to take a walk through the artwork of man from antiquity until the 19th Century, via the replication of physical spaces, palaces, gates, original buildings, [that is] achieved by the restoration and stabilization of original pieces”, she continued.
The project employs a proverbial army of historians, architects, archaeologists and restorers, with Alvarez being the singular Latin American among them.
While she works as a restorer of art, she also came to Germany with the intention of restoring a missing piece of her family’s history.
“The funny thing is that I came to Germany in search of a missing link in my family and I have found myself restoring great works and fascinating collections like the Tell Hallaf [the archaeological site in Syria].”
According to the family myth a German relative once existed on her mother’s side. However, she only had knowledge of the man’s surname, Dossman, because neither her mother, grandmother nor siblings had come into contact with him.
Her mother, acting out of what Evelyn described as “pragmatic curiosity”, made the kind of decision that life’s coincidences can pivot on, and sent her children to the German school in Cali.
By the time she had fled to Germany at the age of 22, her German was almost interchangeable with that of a native speaker’s, and she therefore had no problems in completing her restoration studies in Germany in 2005, after having completed four semesters in a Colombian university.
Her mother’s seemingly fateful decision to have her children study German led Evelyn to not only find her passion, but love as well, when she met Gustavo Llano a native Colombian from the department of Antioquia. A former dancer in Colombia, Llano likewise fled Colombia’s internal conflict.
“We left without making noise or causing problems. It was a collective decision and at the time painfully solitary, but now here we are telling the story, which has gone very well”, added Gustavo.
“Life revolves around themes, how you think” said Evelyn. “He is a paisa (from Antioquia] and I am a caleña [from Cali] and, therefore, supposedly destined for those regional rivalries that are so clear in Colombia, but from ten thousand kilometers away such differences are trivial. What counts is that we’re a couple, we have a son, and we are together abroad.”