California called to her, as she came of age in the overcast winters of northern Germany. The desert’s distinctive quality of light and complex visual history resonated with her. “Since childhood I was fascinated by America, primarily through the Hollywood films I saw that portrayed characters pursuing lofty goals, starring in rags-to-riches stories, often set in the vast expansiveness of the land,” Schneider said.
She left for San Francisco just after she graduated high school, with no money or resources to her name, working three jobs and saving up for a motorcycle. After a hit-and-run that left her leg shattered and required 30 surgeries, she moved back to Germany to heal. After studying photography and film at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Schneider moved to Los Angeles in 1996 as the city was becoming a creative magnet for artists. She met gallerist Susanne Vielmetter, who exhibited Schneider’s work at art fairs and galleries overseas, before opening her own gallery in 2000.