During his youth, Emerson Woelffer traveled and spent time in the Yucatan which began his fascination with pre-Columbian and tribal art. In 1942, the artist Matta introduced him to an abstract way of working. Woelffer's approach to work followed the Surrealist tradition of automatism and free association, balancing impulse and craft, spontaneity and restraint. In the1950s, Woelffer traveled frequently, even living in Yucatan, Mexico and the island Forio d'Ischia Naples, Italy where his work was influenced by the environment. His interest in collage work developed. Using a gestural approach to work, his collages emerged in an unrestrained manner, through the combination of cut paper strips, torn paper, oil sticks amongst other mediums.