Aimee is a self-taught visual artist and filmmaker that works with a diverse array of materials and themes. Since her release from prison, now four years ago, she has been an active member in the arts community across the state, and nationally, particularly focusing on efforts to curate the work of her contemporaries and create programming that allows for meaningful dialogue and cultural shifts. Her body of work continues to transform, but the visible longing for justice and a re-contextualized release from trauma remains at the core of her practice and message. She has learned that making is an opportunity to embrace her voice, understand her power, and to advocate for human beings experiencing social and political oppression.
This piece explores my last physical gesture of motherhood before that identity was stripped from me and my then one year old daughter. In my final court appearance, the judge decided to make my time consecutive instead of concurrent, effectively doubling my sentence. I received 8 years instead of 4 years. I remember the judge suggesting that maybe “someday you can raise your daughter inside.” The tears ran hot down my face as I tried to process what was happening and I remember looking at my mother and rocking my cradled arms mouthing “my baby, my baby,” over and over again to her.
I never got to raise Alivia “inside” nor would I have wanted to. I missed the most critical years of bonding, attachment, and establishing trust and discipline in her life. When I came home I was handed a child that didn’t want me to come back and who has said on more than one occasion that I came home and “ruined her life.” I can’t describe the way my heart continues to break, mourn, and wonder “what if.”
That last day in court was really the first day of the rest of my life, the first day where the wound took root, festered, and left me as a hollow shell of a woman, a mother, and a human being. I work on healing my own wounds, and I choose everyday to love my daughter even when she doesn’t love me back. I choose to be present, to feel the pain, and to cook dinner anyway. I choose to love and release the past, the present, and the future. I choose healing because I know that my heart must continue to expand and be a salve to the mother-wounds of my own daughter and the other mothers and children in my Returning Artists Guild community.
Artists and artwork were photographed by Ralphoto Studio.