Erna Y was born in Skopje, Macedonia on November 14th, 1926. At the age of twelve she had her first exhibition of drawings in the city of Pancevo, Yugoslavia. She studied at the Fine Arts School of Graz, in Vienna, Austria, where she graduated in 1948. One of her masters in Graz was Ziskovic. Living in Brazil since 1949, Erna Y became a Brazilian citizen in 1950.