Mapping Embodiment is an arts-oriented project led by Dr. Kate Phelps, 4W Director of Creative Embodiment and Embodimentoring. Phelps has led a series of online and in-person workshops with UW-Madison students to explore elements of embodiment through a therapeutic “mapping” process that integrates art, journaling, reflection, facilitation, and more. In these workshops, participants are prompted to create a body map to make visual the joy, trauma, growth, curiosity, and all other kinds of emotions and experiences that manifest within the body. Students are encouraged to share their maps with one another and discuss their individual and collective experience with the body mapping process. Workshop participants have reported feelings of catharsis, recognition, and healing through this process.
Dr. Phelps’ workshops have focused primarily on gendered embodiment in the university setting, exploring how sexual violence, gender-based violence, and other forms of gender-based oppression and inequality manifest in and on the body and influence daily experiences of embodiment, body consciousness, and the spatial realities of bodies for female and feminine identifying students. Dr. Phelps is currently working to expand her methodologies, and will supervise peer-facilitated body mapping workshops that focus on the embodied experiences of transgender and gender nonconforming students in fall of 2021. She is also creating a facilitation guide and corresponding curriculum for those interested in replicating this work.
View body maps made by UW-Madison students and listen to excerpts from body mapping focus groups and interviews.
Learn from Dr. Kate Phelps on the history and meaning of body mapping, and follow along as she shares how you can create your own!
"It felt like taking back my body. This can be mine."
——BODY MAPPING WORKSHOP PARTICIPANT
Below are body maps from UW students* who have participated in Dr. Kate Phelps’ Mapping Embodiment Workshops. The maps explore various elements of embodiment and demonstrate the therapeutic foundations of body mapping in their expression of themes such as internal versus external desires and influences, as well as bodily relationships to spaces and communities. The images also symbolize growth, self-awareness, compassion, pain and violence, vulnerability, ownership and autonomy, freedom, resistance, and letting go.
*These images are shared anonymously to protect the privacy and confidentiality of workshop participants.
"I found compassion for myself. It gave me warmth. I was being true to myself and my community."