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bodymapping – developing new narratives for our lives

October 2, 2012

made by Ncedeka from the Bambanani Women’s Group

Bodymapping is a way to re-tell our life stories using our own life-sized body tracings. Making a bodymap gives people a chance to reflect on the stories they tell about their lives: Are they accurate? hopeful?  Do they highlight obstacles or resilience? Do they acknowledge support which has been/is/could be in the person’s life?

Art therapy student Jessica Leavens wrote a beautiful account of her experience at a 2 day bodymapping workshop. Please do click on Jessica’s name for her descriptions and photos of her developing bodymap, and check out her links to other bodymapping resources and projects.

The process of bodymapping was developed by Jane Solomon in Africa. Before drug treatments for HIV/AIDS were available, art made by people with AIDS was focussing upon leaving family stories behind for their children. As drug treatments became available, people living with HIV/AIDS started looking to the future instead of the past, and bodymapping has been a good way to do that.

Booklets of mini-bodymaps are also being used as a way for people with chronic conditions to communicate with health care providers. This gives nurses, doctors, etc. a way to track how treatments are working and how symptoms change over time. It is especially valuable where patients and health care workers do not speak the same language.

When I wondered, in on-line conversation with other art therapists, about doing bodymapping with a group of people who have experienced multiple traumas and/or come from a culture which treats the body with modesty, Kay Gravell suggested doing a similar process just with hands. Kay’s website breastlesslandscape.com looks at art and issues related to breast cancer/mastectomy.

I’d love to hear other people’s ideas about body-based art used as healing and/or education.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 24, 2012 6:28 pm

    More on body mapping – here’s an article in Border Crossings, about Solomon’s Body Mapping work, with clear images of body maps made by participants at a workshop in Canada. This article highlights the role body maps have played in reducing HIV/AIDS-related stigma, and mentions that there has been an economic benefit to the makers as images have been sold. Body maps have been reproduced in larger-than-life mosaic and as prints.

    Here are a brief article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal, case studies by Allison Crawford,
    If ‘The Body Keeps the Score’: Mapping the Dissociated Bodyin Trauma Narrative, Intervention, and Theory and Tanja Meyburgh, Body Mapping & Narratives of Trauma.

    Don’t miss this one: powerful images of the 5 day workshop process and follow-up exhibition facilitated by Nairobi-based Art2Be: Art (Therapy) for Positive Living and Social Change. Their website is well worth spending some time exploring.

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