As a teenager growing up in Queens, Aimee Hofmann would lock herself in her room for hours, sketching portraits of people she knew, never knowing that someday, art would give her the taste of freedom she would no longer enjoy physically. “I woke up one day with a tingling in my legs and the feeling that I was losing sensation,” recalls Hofmann, a 44-year-old resident of Tuckahoe. “I was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a rare inflammation of the spinal cord, and I was told I would never walk again.”
That was in 2006, when Hofmann was 29, working in marketing in Manhattan and dreaming of having children with her husband of six years. “The news hit me in the stomach like a knife. I thought, My life is over. There is no happiness in my future.”
During a two-month hospital stay, Hofmann engaged in a therapeutic art program. “I was introduced to painting right there in my hospital bed,” she explains. “I felt joy and hope, and that joy is possible in my life.”
Upon her release from the hospital, “the first thing I did was buy canvas,” says Hofmann, hoping to continue the profound sense of peace that painting brought her. “It helped me express what I couldn’t put into words, and it kept me present.”
Hofmann says she went through years of adjustment and self-reflection work, but “as soon as I opened myself up to joy in my life,” she says, “blessings came.” Blessings in the form of a daughter, then a son, and more recently, the courage to share her artwork with others by listing it for sale on Instagram and her website.
Every piece she creates is abstract, with broad, flowing strokes tinged mainly in varying shades of blue. “The water and the ocean are my biggest inspirations,” says Hofmann, an avid swimmer before and after becoming a paraplegic. “In the water, I feel free, mentally and physically.”
She hopes to inspire that feeling in others, with paintings bearing names like Verve and Living Life, supported by the motto: “We can’t change the past or worry about the future. We can only embrace and have gratitude for the moment right now.”