Body maps are life-size self-portraits that we paint tracing our the outlines of our bodies on canvas and filling in the details of our lives, our histories, and our hopes. The Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH) painted our first body maps in 2006 in Kenya, India, and Thailand for an activist exhibition on HIV-positive women’s experience in Kobe, Japan.
Groups of women came together in a safe place for five days, talked about our lives, and painted our stories, our memories, and our dreams on our maps. We believe that the process of painting and sharing body maps helps us to learn and to heal, and to reflect on our lives and the choices available to us. Seen together, body maps provide a road map for social change because they show us how our choices and our circumstances shape who we are.