Body Maps: Women Navigating the Positive Experience in Africa and Canada


Learn about the Body Maps

The images shown here were created by HIV positive women who participated in CATIE-sponsored workshops in Tanzania, Zambia and Canada. Body mapping is a form of art and narrative therapy used to gain understanding of ourselves, our bodies, and the world we live in. The body mapping process shown here was developed by Jane Solomon. She is a South African artist working with CATIE’s partner in this project, the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) in southern Africa. Body mapping was first seen as an advocacy tool to bring attention to the issue of HIV/AIDS in Africa. However, it rapidly became a tool for story-telling, helping women with HIV/AIDS to sketch, paint, and put their journeys into words. The larger-than-life-sized maps stand tall, vibrant, and proud.

In these body maps, participants first outline their bodies to create highly personal self-portraits. The body mapping process includes drawing, painting, visualization exercises, group discussion, sharing, and reflection. Information about HIV, its treatment, and side effects is offered at key learning moments and in workshops during the five days that women are brought together to create and learn. There is also a lot of singing, dancing, and laughing. Body mapping, though it triggers many emotional memories, is a celebration of courage and strength.

This approach was developed by CATIE and REPSSI in the context of HIV/AIDS, but body mapping is for everyone.

View the Body Maps and read the women's stories

Click on each woman's Body Map to read her story.

October 2006: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

May 2007: Lusaka, Zambia

September 2007: Toronto, Canada