"This triptych features free, flowing brushstrokes in refreshing hues of sky blue, mint, green, grey and white. This series was inspired by the colors and shapes absorbed during my vacations in Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland --The aqua rivers flowing through the fields, the snow-capped Alps shining bright against blue skies and white/grey clouds, lush, greenery surrounding the crystal aqua-mint lake. Painted with acrylics, this triptych features multiple layers of gestural marks, abstract shapes and swirl patterns."
- Aimee Hofmann
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“As an Asian female with a disability, bright color is my way of taking up space and being heard.”
The work of Aimee Hofmann reflects a journey filled with unexpected loss, resilience, strength, hope and joy. A true New Yorker, Aimee grew up in Queens. She was artistic from childhood, whether it was drawing swirling designs, colorful creations or sketching portraits of people she knew. However, art became even more important after a medical condition changed her life.
In 2006, Aimee was suddenly hit with a rare neurological condition called Transverse Myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord that paralyzed her from the T10 vertebrae of the spine. While in the hospital adjusting to the diagnosis, she began participating in an art therapy program for traumatically injured patients. Aimee shares, “I picked up a paintbrush, started painting right from my hospital bed and never stopped. I realized the canvas and paint allowed me to express what I couldn't put into words.”
Aimee began navigating her new abilities and the emotional toll that came with it. She explains, “There are floods of emotions that come with a sudden acquired disability. Painting has helped me heal, emotionally, and has given me peace during different stages of loss, grief, self-reflection and self re-discovery.” Art has brought her pure joy once again and set her soul on fire. Despite all that changed, painting allowed her to embrace the present and turn the obstacles into opportunities: one of which being a new career as an artist.
Reconnecting with her intuitive artistic voice, Aimee began painting with intention and passion. Additionally, she grew in patience and understanding. “Both my disability and art have also helped me recover from my life-long battle with perfectionism,” she expresses. “I’ve learned to just let things be and appreciate the beauty of mishaps, chaos and imperfections.” The realization of her lack of control in life gave way to a perspective of freedom that she had not experienced before.
This freedom began to reflect in her artistic style. Though Aimee has been doodling her “signature swirls” since she was a child, the designs have evolved, representing her growth. What began as highly structured, defined shapes have given way to more layered, deconstructed designs. Stepping out of her comfort zone, Aimee began incorporating different consistencies of paint and seeing the paints' natural interactions on canvas, as well as using more unconventional tools such as a wheelchair wheel, a house paint brush or a brush with a 28” handle. She shares, “This is all a reflection of having more courage to let go and embrace the beauty of imperfections.”
In terms of process, she begins by making conscious decisions about the color palette. She then starts mark making based on intuition, expressing what she is feeling at the moment. An excited, passionate mood may give way to wild, free gestural marks while a peaceful mood leads to more subdued, soft shapes and colors. From there, she builds depth and details and starts to make conscious decisions regarding composition and focal point by deciding where she wants the viewer's eye to travel. Attracted to balance and symmetry, Aimee incorporates these values, but is no longer focused on being perfectly structured.
One major source of continual inspiration for Aimee’s work is water, which holds a special place for her, being a lifelong avid swimmer. Aimee expresses, “I went back to the pool to do laps only 3 months after injury. I looked at the water and said ‘I know how to swim...there's just no way that I cannot swim’ and jumped right in!” While becoming paralyzed brought feelings of being trapped, water was where she felt free. This love and appreciation for the nature of water is reflected in wild, wave-like gestural marks and hues of blue that are repeated in her work.
In addition, she is inspired by nature, especially big, bright florals and greenery. She also feels moved by fashion, often getting ideas for color palettes from her own wardrobe. Music and nostalgia from the 80’s, her favorite decade, are also big influences which inspire her to use bright neons and pastels that reflect the decade’s upbeat spirit.
Aimee is motivated by the desire to bring beauty into the world as well as be a voice for fair representation and inclusivity of individuals with disabilities and minorities. She expresses, “After I became paralyzed, I realized that people with disabilities are still under-represented everywhere.” Passionate about changing the perceptions people have about disabilities, she hopes to encourage conversations about ableism and equal opportunity. She will continue to strive to be seen and heard on more platforms, in order to change stereotypes.
Aimee is proud to have the courage to start her art business and pursue her creative dreams. Additionally, her biggest achievements include moving on with life after paralysis, becoming a mom, completing a marathon on her hand-cycle bike and completing a 10 foot mural! She hopes to continue growing her presence as an artist and work on large scale commissions which will challenge and help her evolve, as well as build connections with new communities. When she’s not creating, she enjoys swimming, hand cycling, binge watching her favorite shows on Netflix, reading self-motivation books and spending time with friends.
“I see my work as a reminder of hope that we’ll find our way when we are lost, and see the light after dark times. I want people to feel that same hope and feel the promise of a brighter future when they look at my art. I want them to feel the joy and healing that art has brought me.”
*Headshot by Ken Gabrielsen
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork. Learn more here.