Avis Lee is a certified Braille translator, currently working as a Peer Assistant in the Therapeutic Community program. She is a member of Let’s Get Free: Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee, and the coauthor of the play Chin to the Sky. She also serves on Decarcerate PA’s Advisory Board. Avis was born in Altoona, PA, grew up in Pittsburgh, and has been serving a Death By Incarceration sentence for the last 38 years. She enjoys genealogy, knitting, crocheting, and gardening.
AVIS: I’m surprised that when I thought my life was stagnated at a standstill I was in reality still moving forward, evolving, and growing…
Gb: There is difficulty in the sense that how can I represent/translate/inscribe/reinscribe another human being without actually being near her – not being able to hear her voice or see the mannerisms of her personality and humanity. I think the most important thing I wanted to impart on the work was a sense of her whimsy and the saturation in her visions of not only the future but her “here and now.”
AVIS: When I look in the faces around me, many of which I’ve watched for 37 years…I am awed by the beauty that the passing of time has gently carved into them; a crease here, a fold there, gray, silver and white hair, baby-blue rings encircling deep-brown-black pupils which continue to glimmer through their opaqueness.
I see poets, artists, musicians, crafts workers, mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts, grandmothers godmothers, wives, and neighbors…I see society. A society of women who live within a society of men, women, and children who are separated from them with barbed-wire fencing, time, and space. I see lives that were thrown away; lives that were stolen, lives that were traded, and lives that were sacrificed for others.
Gb: Freedom is sometimes political, like some type of currency of privilege that mutates based on the type and manner of privilege(s). Freedom is sometimes about “normative” – doing like the casualness of a conversation around “I like the grocery store down the block better than the one on the corner.” Freedom is sometimes emotional and is shaped or held by fear – that freedom might be to live free of fear. Freedom is sometimes an awesome chaos like light or the seeming anarchy of particle physics (though of course we could say these are “governed” by mathematics)…freedom is deeply about the ability to employ the mind and all that it contains some way and any way into the physical world.
Gb Kim is an artist and interdisciplinary scholar, working with scientists in hospitals and institutions throughout the U.S. and internationally. While the primary pursuit of her scholarship has been art, science, medicine, and technology have always informed her practice. She is currently interested in science fiction particularly as it functions as a space of creative exchange between science politics and the imaginative act. She is invested in art as a proposition and agentive vehicle that draws our attention to the politics of our technology, examines the social effects of science, and both creates and destroys these imagined social barriers. She currently works at the organizations, iBiology and the Ligo Project. Learn more at http://www.gbkim.com/