Body Maps


I had a very turbulent childhood. I grew up in an emotionally and physically abusive household. I am the oldest of four children. I was a very young teenaged mother victimized by sexual assault and abuse. I grew up in the North Carolina Baptist Children’s Home from age 14-22 deemed a ward of the court. I was told that I could never go to college because I'm not smart enough and who would even take the time with me. I was an orphan with two living Christian parents. “She’s an under-achiever”, that’s what they told me. An under achiever unworthy of love."

For all these things I thank them. I am the first in any generation on both sides of my family to walk down the aisles and receive my High School diploma. When the viewer looks at my body map this is just some of the things they will see. The main impetus of my work is the communication of explaining the idea of liberating one’s mind, self and society. To see what we don't want to see. To explain the unexplainable. To make tangible that which seemed unattainable. My body map reaches deep into all that is true within myself and my subconscious mind; be they experience, dreamscapes or past.

My pain, My joy, My body - No one leaves this earth without experiencing tremendous pain and extreme joy. Truer than life to me; manifested in my work is the exploration of examining religion, heritage, culture, sex, abuse and political life. I paint both what I have seen and would like to see. I strive to enhance the things which appeal to me in each subject. By voiding certain colors, I rearrange the world as I see it by making other colors the focus.

I began to have dreams of my upending death. I was very traumatized with fear. I began to assess and re-evaluate my life and its purpose. I began to contemplate forgiveness and how in the process of forgiving others, we gain forgiveness for ourselves. The day of surgery came. I made out a will and testament about my paintings and what they meant.

I awakened to find my right arm numb. I complained of this right away, but my complaint fell on deaf ears. Days later, the arm was sensitive to the touch. The truth of the matter was that I had been dropped in the O.R. while being transferred to another gurney to go to recovery. I also found out later during reconstructive surgery that my lymph nodes had been removed without my consent. My nerves had been ripped through. During the reconstruction; my new surgeon discovered that I had been butchered during my mastectomy. There was a large hole under my right arm big enough for his fist to fit in. The edges that should have been straight were jagged. The reconstruction was to be an hour, but lasted four hours.

As I lay in bed for weeks, my depression became more and more. I felt hopeless and alone. I was a right handed artist who could not paint. My life was over. I had not prayed in a while. I began to pray to the God of my understanding to help bring me through because I was incapable of doing it myself. I went into my studio and began to paint 5X5 pieces. I lowered my easel as far as I could to accommodate the lack of motion, but the arm would tire in seconds. Every day I painted till sweat poured and I would cry. I went from seconds at a time to minutes and then hours. I graduated to 10X10. Although the quality wasn’t the same as before my surgery, I was painting and creating. So much had happened in my life from the time I had agreed to do a body map until now.

"There was so many things I needed to say and yet the limited use of my arm posed a real challenge."

Determined to fulfill my commitment, I began to use collage to accommodate the need to finish my piece without leading to arm stiffness for days on end. I began by gathering important items symbolizing significant points in my life from childhood to adulthood. I then gathered maps of all the states that I have lived in and shredding them into a work of art. My Body Map took months to complete. The only parts that are not there were two recent surgeries involving reconstruction.

Today, I am painting more and more. The canvases are getting larger by the month. Most of all thru forgiveness, I am getting physically and emotionally stronger each day.

Sydnei Smithjordan likes to refer to herself as a romantic surrealist with over twenty-five years of experience in various fields of art. Educated in fine art at College of Design, Art and Architecture at Santa Monica College under the mentorship of Ronn Davis; she has also studied illustration at Rhode Island School of Design.


U*Space is always challenging artist to think outside the box and continuously pushes artist to further explore their creative minds and intellectual elasticity. Once again this was the case with the Body Map exhibition. When I first read about the details of this exhibit, I figured I would just draw a body showing the major organs and bone structure similar to what you may find in an anatomy book, but more from an artistic viewpoint. I should have known that was not what Terence had in mind. This was an opportunity for me to be my own psychologist and to do a visual and internal self examination of myself and visually display my evaluation.

My approach to creating the map forced me to look into the mirror and begin tearing away the layers of false protection I'd built up over years until I reached the core or the truth of my own identity. Every layer of protection I pulled off would reveal to me different things that made me the person I am. Some of these things I am proud of and some things I had hiding behind layers for a reason. None the less, these finding are what I wanted to display in my map. Trying to be as transparent as possible and not worrying about the opinion of others.

"I have always felt as though I am more of an analytical type painter."

I like to think about what I'm painting and the images I'm going to use when completing a picture. In those situations I am usually analyzing other individuals and expressing my opinions of what I see from my point of view. Creating the body map did not allow me to use others as a scapegoat. Creating the map was different from how I usually work. I was now looking and analyzing myself.

With this map being so personal, it did affect how I usually work. Generally when doing a painting I don't question my feelings or opinions on the image I'm composing. I just do it without worries or fear, not wondering if viewers will be in agreement or not. With this image being myself (internal and external), I guess there were times that I actually thought before placing the first thing that came to mind on the paper. Once I realized that I was being to cautious with the picture and worrying about what I was saying about myself, I then made a conscious effort to paint sporadically. Doing away with my normal routine of think then paint, I allowed my hands and the paint brush to act as the real time representative of my mind and thoughts. In other words, whatever entered my mind was transferred to the paper, there was no filtering involved in the process.

My map consists of negative and positive things that embody me as an individual. Inside the map you will find things that have caused the most pain throughout my life (both physically and mentally). The map shows my origin, where and when I was brought into this world. The map shows how I view myself and those things in life that are most important to me. I am shown holding a paint brush in my right hand because I feel that represents my calling or my gift from God. With that said religion plays a major role in my life and to show that I am a child of God a Halo was placed above my head. Some people may view me as different or some of the things I do as backwards. If those individuals would open their mind and take the time to look at things from a different perspective they will see that what may seem backwards or foreign has reason and purpose and will reveal itself to be genius. The Halo shows that I am a child of God but this does not make me without fault and imperfections. My imperfections and the pollutants of my body are represented by the black inside of my silhouette. The red dots on my hands and feet are a reminder to me that the black pollution inside of me can be cleansed and washed away. The squiggly blue lines inside my body show the chaos, trials and tribulations that beset me on a daily basis. The writing on my heart shows what’s truly important in my life. Thank you Terence for coming up with the idea of "THE BODY MAP."

A Georgia native, Eugene W.R. Campbell Jr. is indeed an artist who's work exemplifies the essence of true creativity. The past few years have seen Campbell reaching even further toward true artistic freedom with his work being showcased throughout the United States. Campbell graduated from Albany State University with honors and holds a BA in art.


The first thing one notice’s about Salum Kambi's body map is the large map of the African continent in black at his very core. The outline of mainland Tanzania, his homeland, is highlighted in white. The work is more deliberately representational than much of his usual style of painting, and it is rendered primarily in black, white and red--the three primary colors in Bantu societies and languages.

The large red heart symbolizing peace and love is also placed within his body in an anatomically and poetically correct location. Most of the remaining detail is exterior to the image of his own body, unlike many typical body maps. But Kambi also provides a very personal link for us, placing the imprint of his hand both inside its anatomical position and outside the outline of his body.This step of incorporating the whorls and arches of his fingerprints--the artist's embodied present--with the palmist's lines and creases in his hand--his spiritual and metaphysical destiny--links the sparse interior with the busy exterior in a way that links body and spirit, past, present and future.

These hand prints lead to images indicating the importance of community (the rural women on the right side), tradition (the Maasai moran, or warriors, in their initiation dance to the left) and environment (the image of Mount Kilimanjaro in the upper right).These, along with the green and yellow brush strokes that ground the image at the head and feet--are painted in the artist's more typical contemporary style. Also apparent are images with more obvious 21st century significance: a wrist watch, football and musical notes. These nods to the present confirm Kambi's artistic objective to represent these traditional Afrocentric values contexts to a post-colonial and global audience.

The achingly rich color palate found in the works of artist Salum Kambi are made all the more striking when one realizes that amazingly, he has had no formal art training. Born in 1970 in Dar es Salaam, the Tanzania artist works primarily in Oil & Acrylic. Kambi's technique, in which he uses either a palate knife or a fine brush, sometimes both, can best be described as a coming together of Lyrical Abstract & Fauvism. The result of combining the two? Breathtaking works that burn with a bold yet accessible color intensity.

In 2004, Salum Kambi was the first Tanzanian artist to be selected for the Africa Festival in Rome, Italy. That same year, one of his paintings was chosen for the reception building of the State House in Dar es Salaam. Since then, his works have been shown and collected in several countries Finland, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, and Italy. Most recently, one of his works was chosen for the home of Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.


The materials selected stimulated my creative energies to talk about myself.  It was like planting an unknown seed in soil, watering it, and watching it grow. The materials consisted of a cardboard box, markers, ink pen, photo copies, and glue.

I began with a brick wall background with a mixture of Chinese lettering and other words depicting my culture and social upbringing--being of mixed heritage was an emotional strain especially in the period of time when I was coming up.

The flowers indicate my acceptance of myself, but I deeply and sincerely regret allowing the solid sternness of that wall to dictate the paths I've chosen just to avoid the feeling of embarrassment of who I am. Over the years, I grew to accept who and what I was--like growing gray and aging. But I wasn't really aware of my complete acceptance of my background until I was asked by someone who was with his buddies about my heritage. We were on the Marta train. He said, "you don't look like you're from here", and then awkwardly asked about my background. I proudly responded and without hesitation, what my cultural make up consisted of---Chinese, African and North American Indian. He looked surprised, and then asked, "but how did this happen, etc., etc.,? I stopped him before he could question any further and said, "Hey, I didn't have nothing to do with it--that's just the way it is." Everyone got quiet in thought and when the train came to my stop, I smiled and told them all to have a good day and exited the train. A lady responded, "Oh, she knows who she is." I nodded my head and smiled to myself, "Yes I do".

"I'm also proud of my femininity and motherhood as indicated by the female symbols in the womb area of my portrait." - Carol Yee-Blake


I have always had a love of birds and butterflies. The fact they were so pretty and could fly away was magical to me. I have always loved butterflies as they are so light, colorful and can flutter away at a whim. In the painting my face is covered as I sometimes feel very shy and I want you to see me dashing and brilliant… ego thing I suppose. Butterflies in my hair. I feel sometimes that my head is in the clouds, forever day-dreaming.

I have always been a daydreamer. I think that’s where a lot of my pieces are born. The mixing of -mixing the fantasy with the real (world). My works really look to bring out the hidden surprises of those two worlds. Being fortunate enough to find interesting shapes, colors and beauty in almost anything; I can look at an old/rotting tree and dead flowers and find its beauty and that is what I want to incorporate in my artwork.

As a child I was very skinny, energetic and sometime sickly. I would always have nose bleeds. It could have been from getting overheated while running or playing or I could be sitting quietly and it would happen. "Doctors would tell my mom that I would grow out of it constantly and she was always worried. One of the results of the nose bleeds were blood clots."  This is TMI (so be warned) I would have to blow the clots out my nose instead of swallowing or I would be choked. It was a weird thing for nurses in school to see me do this at such a young age. Most of them didn’t realize I had to blow my nose constantly as my nose bled. I admit-- I would not want this as an adult. Glad it went away as I got older.

I have always had a nervous stomach and gastrointestinal issues. If I got too nervous or excited I would get pains in my stomach or sickly. I also have acid reflux which is pretty common to a lot of people. "If you eat right and pay attention what your body likes you should be okay."

Restless legs—The image of nails in my legs is sometimes annoying but not painful. It’s a jittery, odd, almost indescribable feeling where your legs want to move and to get relief you either  stretch your legs, hit them or move around. I’ve been told as I get older this condition may not let up. I just need to deal with it.

Born Sept 15, 1971 in Birmingham Alabama. I am the eldest sibling of my brother and sister who are twins. Pritchett attended The University of Alabama and graduated with a BS in Clothing, Textiles and Design. Her technique is a fusion of her formal training in illustration, cloth, and ancient dye/wax techniques.


When I stare down at an intimidating blank canvas, I often wonder what the end result will be. Usually, I begin a piece with a general idea in mind, but it often takes on a life of its own, carrying me to places I’ve never been. The most interesting part of the creative process is waking up the day after I’ve completed a painting: I look at it and wonder, "Did I paint that"? Perhaps because when I’m in "the zone", I tend not to think too hard about what I’m doing. It happens organically, but at the same time with great focus on composition and design.

My artwork is primarily abstract--the freedom I feel when I paint this way is exhilarating. Each time I paint an idea or feeling, I learn something new about myself. The psychology of abstract expressionism is very interesting to me, as it is a window into an artist’s mind.

A common thread in my body map is the smiley faces, which I have an affinity for. Perhaps it is the sense of balance they bring to the painting by representing happy thoughts all through the veins of my body even when I may be sad sometimes I still have joy in my big heart that helps me to stay joyful and focused about life, and the tears represent the joy I have even though trials may come I know my creator is close by to wipe all my tears away. Furthermore, the earth represents me being able to obtain many treasures this world was to offer me and my body is  made in a fetal position because I feel something great is going to be birthed this year for a great change in my life.

My passion in life is art, for it allows me to express myself through color and design. Furthermore, I am blessed to have such a great talent and a loving spirit to share with the world. For that, I am eternally grateful. I will forever be creative, loving and free-spirited and I hope that people will enjoy my work for years to come.

Born in 1979, Ara DeRan Key grew up in Irondale, Alabama, which the artist lovingly refers to as "a quiet serene city filled with good people and great southern food.  The artist attended Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama where she majored in Communication with a concentration in electronics and visual arts.


When I first began this project, I started with a full sized outline of my body in three different positions. I then began rendering my face, substituting my eye for a small football. The shape is important as it is what I’ve been told is the true shape of my eye due to an astigmatism. After roughly drawing my face, I soon began to feel constrained by the format and guidelines I set for myself. I decided that by tearing the sheet into smaller sizes I could interact with them in a more intimate way, thus feeling a deeper connection to the piece, allowing me to internalize what it was I was making and why, giving me an opportunity to focus more on the individual symbolic elements.

The sheets now felt like pages to me and turning the drawing into a book seemed to make perfect sense. A book is read, as we all are by each other. A bone like snow flake sits above my head as a reminder that just as no two snow flakes are alike, no two people are exactly the same either and we should embrace our individualism. The second and third pages speak of physical as well as emotional issues. The simplest being a calcium deposit I have above my right wrist. I have heard that they use to squish such lumps with a Bible but now surgery is required to have it removed. It is painful at times, and I have to say that I would prefer to have it whacked with a Bible than cut open. The barbaric nature of that feels very cryptic to me which I hope is conveyed in the stylization of the hand and its placement. To the left of my hand falls pink rain from an ear cloud. I often feel as if my ears are leaking or as if water is running out of them. My husband tells me that this is from allergies, but the hypochondriac in me worries that it is something more serious…of course I never go to the doctor to check on such things. The top right corner of the page shows a brain filling up the top of a bird cage, referring to physical pressure I often feel in my head, but also more often the problem of obsessing and filling my head with obsessions so much to where I think my head would explode if it weren’t encased in such a hard shell…leading to the image of the shell on the following page. I covered the shell in wax to help push the idea of a protective (skin) layer over something that is potentially fragile and could shatter.

To the left of the shell I drew myself wearing glasses and wanted to humorously depict the aging process. A crow seemed the funniest way for me to speak of aging, not because of the death symbolism, although that is the end result of aging, but more so for the lines one develops as visual marks of a life lived. Behind the crow is an abstracted slide to represent the fast pace in which life seems to move. I feel the abstracted marks and shapes are a true indication of how memories are not always photo realistic and still.

My torso spans across the third and fourth pages of the book. Here we find more clues to ailments and physical things that have affected my body, the largest element being pregnancy and the representation of the baby within. Being a mother has been the most important thing my body (and life) has experienced. The baby is positioned within the original outline of my profile, shown in yellow with red and blue lines encasing it. My heart (which mimics for me the shape of the baby) is being squeezed by green rope, to express the painful swollen cartilage I have surrounding my heart. Garlic floats above as a symbol for heart burn and the agony I have suffered simply from eating one of the world’s best ingredients. (Considering that I am 100% Italian, you see what a curse this is.)

To the right of my left arm flows a stream of large outlined teeth. One colored brown to show a missing tooth I had pulled last year. Life is funny, and decisions have to be made; the dentist told me that he could save the tooth for $3000 or pull it for $200…needless to say…I now have a small place to run my tongue through when I am thinking hard. The story of my tattoo, which takes up most of my left upper arm, continues on pages 6 and 7. My son Beaux began having seizures at a very young age, having up to 27 in one day. The doctors tested him numerous times and found nothing wrong with him. I show his EKG test flowing from his head into my veins. His physical problems became the worst emotional problems and fears I have ever experienced. The outline is actually his body, as he wanted to be a part of this project with me. I also show on these pages the cesarean scar from his birth. After a year of seizures, with no explanation, he was back to full health. I have had many horrible things happen in my life, things I don’t hide, but also don’t find necessary to relive…these things and the final effect of a year worrying about the most important little person in my husband's and my life…led me to a tattoo of strength and optimism.

The traditional Japanese Koi fish legend goes like this; Symbolic in Buddhism to represent courage. Humans "swim" through the "ocean of suffering" without fear, just as fish swim through water. In the fall Koi fish swim down stream, with the current, for an easier passage through life. In the Spring they swim up stream (one of the few fish who are strong enough to do so) and once they swim under a waterfall they turn into a dragon. I have chosen the Fall downward swim as a symbol for the rest of my life and how I wish it to be an easy journey, one I hope to be without many obstacles. The flower above the fish is my son’s birth flower; the violet. The Koi is also very symbolic with family.  Another word to describe love is "Koi". "Koi" can be selfish, but "Ai" is a real love, Koi is always wanting, Ai is always giving."

Page 8 and 9 also shows a snow flake just behind my bare foot, sitting below a Chuck Taylor sneaker. Being a teacher I am constantly standing on my feet.  The pads of my feet and toes throb and are numb everyday. I have spent a small fortune on “good” shoes, and oddly enough Converse are the most comfortable shoes I’ve found. I’ve found that flat shoes that give the sense of walking barefoot work well for me due to high arches, as you can see mine are so high that they do not leave an impression in my sherbet colored footprint walking into the top left of the page. Safety pins and straight pins attack my feet, while a small etching sits still on the bottom right side of the composition of these pages. The blue bird is the state bird for New York, and I use it as a symbol for where I was born. The bird sits grounded on a fine piece of furniture as she ponders the empty chairs before her. These chairs represent those who have come before her in life as well as those that will come after as a family continues. The floral background indicates a comfortable wallpaper feeling of home with a bright flesh tone palette (flowing from the bottom of the foot). On the leg of a chair I have inscribed “Made in New York, 1970” to further indicate my place and date of birth. Fish flow through the bottom of the etching as a representation of extended family, those who may not be of our blood but are none the less family. Feet continue as a theme on the 10th and 11th pages, revealing once again the outline from my initial drawing. The symbol for Capricorn sits encapsulated in wax above the heel of my sneaker, from a previous page, as I was born at the end of the year. My sons wounded knee mimics my own leg/ankle injury. Moving trucks help convey a sense of the body always in motion and our lives as nomads (something we hope to change very soon). No matter where we move (as seen on the final page) we will travel forward together as a family.

I find the contrast between the aggressive and emotional style of my drawing with the clean and tight manner in which I created the cover, to be of great significance. I believe the crisp clean cover is a perfect example of how we all wish to be seen without flaws, when it is the flaws and imperfections which make us unique and individuals. It is human nature to give the world a more palatable version of one self.  Everyone creates a toned-down and more sell-able identity while saving a more raw and honest self for their closest friends and family. Your 'shell' may protect your inner hermit crab, but every so often it should be shed for a larger size, one that emotionally allows others to enter.

On the last page you can see my husband’s and my hands intertwined. We are holding hands for a leap of faith, together exploring the uncertainty of life's adventure... moving and jumping and moving and jumping. Falling and floating, resting and flying.  That being said, it's good to believe that the difficult portion of life is over so that you have the possibility for hope and joy.  A roller coaster is only fun with the knowledge of a safe survival without harm.

Donna LoGrasso received her B.F.A. from Moore College of Art and Deign and an M.F.A from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions throughout the US as well as abroad. She currently is on faculty at Auburn University and lives in Alabama with her husband Ben (also an artist) and their son, Beaux Pthalo.


Many years ago, before I finished school, entered a career, had a family, I used to create an annual self-portrait.  I wanted to watch myself grow and change in my artwork.  It was cathartic and insightful, watching my artistic skills grow and my physical body change. Somewhere along the way I forgot this creative project and began to gain heavy titles in my life: mother, wife, engineer, responsible adult.  Time spent being who I was, before the titles, began to recede to the background. But in my youth, my descriptions included many adjectives and not so many nouns.  I was clumsy and awkward.  I dreamed of impossible things and an impossible life.  I moved and danced as if I was free.  My birth marks were uniquely, beautiful to me.  I didn’t mind my imperfections.  I was simply a child of God and that was enough. Painting the scars on the image of myself reminded me of events I sometimes forget about.  Some of them were painful.  Some came with my own birth.  Others were self-inflicted, but they all represent who I am.

I always felt a little awkward on my feet as a child.  I used to fall a lot when I was playing outside, during dance classes or walking down the street for that matter.  Maybe I had balance issues.  Maybe it is attributed to my astrological sign.  Whatever the case, I have plenty of scars on my limbs to show for it.  Stitches on my knee, a broad scar from a skating accident, scrapes from athletic training when I thought I wanted to run track, surgery scars from a broken arm – most of my scars are from when I was under 21 years old.  But they remind me of my childhood, which was active and really not that bad.  I still run into bumps in the road in life, but adult scars are more internal and are not apparent to the naked eye. The fish in the image represent my astrological sign and how, even into adulthood, I sometimes feel like a fish out of water as I try to find my purpose in the world.

Dancing was one of my favorite past times when I was a child.  I took dance classes for a few years and though I was not the best, I have always enjoyed it.  I choreographed routines in my bedroom and performed for my parents all the time.  Being a dancer is one thing I wanted to be when I grew up, but it was intuitively understood from adults and dance teachers that that would not be my path. Hearing comments of being a “fly in buttermilk” during The Nutcracker rehearsals or being made aware that my hair, skin, build and economic standing was different than the other girls in my dance school made me “self-aware”.  Reality eventually set in and I stopped dreaming that dream.  But dancers and the fluidity of movement almost always show up in my artwork.  The image of me is intended to be like that of a dancer.  She is oddly designed in my favorite color.  She is bald and stripped down to her essence. She is imperfect in many ways.  But to me, this image of myself is beautiful, because it represents “self-acceptance”. 

The plant growing from my right hand represents my personal creativity that manifests in many forms.  I am an artist, a writer, a designer and a mother.   I am a creator.  At times my creativity has been fed and motivated by fear and sometimes from love.I want all of my creativity to be rooted in love - not only for the result, but mostly for the process of creating.

To date, I only have two tattoos, but they are both Adinkra symbols.  One is a Sankofa, representing the ability to go back and get what may have been forgotten in the past.  The other is Nsoromma, meaning “Child of God”.  The last symbol at the top, Ananse Ntontan, will be a future tattoo and represents creativity and wisdom.  I wanted to include all three of these symbols to represent my creative journey in life.  There have been times that I have felt the need to set my creativity aside in pursuit of things that will support my family, but it always remains in the background waiting for me.  It is a part of who I am and cannot be discarded.  Including all of these symbols in the artwork reminds me to honor my creator by using my personal gifts.   Adulthood made me forget the essence of who I am: an artist.  Now I am an artist in recovery trying to find balance in this life. This project has been beneficial to help me look at my physical self and to acknowledge and respect the pure essence of who I am.

TeMika Grooms Jarrett's love for art has been a constant in her life and she has continued to develop her skills, primarily as a self-taught artist, with much practice, study and observation. Her work focuses on the human figure as she strives to use its movement and physical expression of the face and body to create a sensation within the viewer. In the past, charcoals and pastels were her media of choice because of its tactile nature.  Her more recent work has been in acrylic where she feels she can obtain a more vibrant use of color and texture while still being able to manipulate it with her hands.


When I received the artist information for the “Body Map" exhibition, I was not sure exactly what I wanted to do. Then, the more and more I thought about it, the more I did not want to do. You see, it required exposing myself to others and that was more than I wanted to tackle. But as fate would have it, I slowly began the process of thinking about my BODY through my life in Japan and in America. I also thought a lot about the MAP as geography which has molded my body.

When I was growing up in Japan I was always very conscious about my body; especially when I entered my teenage years and my breasts had started to become bigger. Most Japanese women have very small chests and I knew that my mother was trying very hard to hide my large chest. I also had big legs and that was not very good either. I wore over-sized clothes to hide these facts and that too made me overly conscious about my body.

When I arrived in America, I was overjoyed to find a brassiere that actually fit me. But once again, I became just as conscious as I was in Japan due to the fact that often people would make comments like "I thought Japanese women had flat chests." or "You sure do have big legs." This did not help me. 

So, I decided to face my BODY. Which is why in my Body Map I have created ME, a life size doll without clothes.

While working on this project, I have come to realize that part of me will be always in Japan and part of me is in America.

I might have a BODY that is not a typical Japanese women's but I am glad that I am me.

I am still on my journey to find ME.

At least, I won't have to hide behind over-sized clothes anymore.

Terumi grew up in Tokyo, Japan, surrounded by the natural beauty of her native land and stimulated by the craft work of the local artisans. While still a young child, Terumi was encouraged by her parents to pursue her interests in music, dance, and the visual arts. Later moving to the San Francisco, California to continue her education. She has participated in many art exhibitions, juried shows, and the National Black Art Festival. Terumi continues to explore art in as many different forms of media as posible, in her continued commitment to expressing harmony in visual, performance art, and ethnology.


Do You See What I See?

1) Masjed (mosque): alternate spelling majid. God, the church is around my head. I recall early on that when choices were presented to me I had little religious quotes to help me. “God don’t like ugly.” That is the one that stuck out most. It was like a foundation, a root in my brain that would influence most of my life. I always felt the church lurking behind me, watching me. It represents my dad, my mom and my family as well.

2) DNA: Hand and Foot print. Who I would become was already set. It’s a covering, my spirit self protecting my ego self as I learn about duality, front and back, masculine and feminine, heaven and hell. I would strive to be on top of my growth. I can always feel a masculine energy around me; leaving impressions, clues to the places that I will connect with it. My guardian angel, he is purple, masculine and I call him indigo. And he has the nerve to spook anyone, even without me knowing. He just shows up and I may not know he’s there.

3) As I grew I found a SPIRITUALITY; it grew like hair grows. You know it grows and you just don’t see it growing; one day it’s just long, or big and fluffy. Even if you cut it off it’s still there waiting to grow again. And I needed that connection to the religions that I love, it just lead me to a different place within myself.

4) BLACK: I have always been called imaginative, and creative. It’s all potential, blackness, the womb, infinite possibilities. That I am black all over is that and when I see my birthmark I am tickled to think that that blackness is in me. Yan cosmology my birthday falls under the glyph of the serpent and it’s the Kundalini (sacred sensual energy). That was the missing link for me in my seed pod healing. I decorated myself with charms to remember.

5) On my calf I have charms to recall being turned down for ballet because of my knees. The other charm is for having scratched my knee till it bled thinking that it would keep me from getting in trouble for coming home late. Mommy got me for being late and fixed up my scar. It reminds me of how wonderful my parents are.

6) My ankles have charms of things that show all of my major heart breaks. I had to transform those relationships into something beautiful and decorative. They each brought something good that I could keep. T. O.- my love of reggae music, R. B., my love and appreciation for drawing on cloths, N.F.S.- my first guitar teacher, B.A.-recording and singing. There is one there that I couldn’t identify since it’s been years since I have seen this…that’s so weird time heals wounds. Thank God.

7) I love painting my face. The white is the wings of angles; when it’s time to go fly, soar, it’s movement and going places with beauty and decorated with the battle scars. I can draw my life in a new direction with the changing of my thoughts. The blue in my neck is learning how to speak up for myself and I can do it with my voice.

8) Around my map is an incantation adapted from a passage in the book Woman Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa P. Estes. It’s reversing capture. And one you are free it’s like “having both feet planted in midair”, (from Spiritual Emergency).

"Just like any relationship, the pencil and I have had our challenges, we have proved again that we are very loyal to each other. I show up, the tools stay ready and spirit works." - Sankofa


The first thing I can say about the journey in creating my Body Map is that it was tremendously difficult.  It pushed me to my limits in every way from stamina due to time restraints to the over analyzing of my conceptual idea.   It drained me emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Since my map can be described by how and who I am we can start with its shape.  I HATE to be “labeled” or put in a “box”.  That is why my map is free floating without a boarder of four corners thus it is only contained by room It’s displayed in.  I’m a spiritual, straightforward, simple, yet complex person.  You can’t get more straightforward than a black and white drawing.  It is simple yet precise, paying attention to all the details.  The gold deep-rooted seed of my spirituality is growing the Victorian veins system throughout my body leading you to the different aspects of my character.  Speaking of character the only way I can describe mine is big and bold.  It’s so big it takes up half my leg.

"My personality goes from being a big kid, full of laughter, to serious and you can tell whatever mood I'm in by simply reading the expression on my face."

A few of those expressions were anger, hate, and sadness permeated the reddish orange figure.  These feeling took me to a dark place in my adolescent youth with me attempting suicide on three separate occasions.  Luckily the seed of God stopped such a foolish thing to happen. Just like it stopped me from accepting the verbal abuse of being called “stupid.”  I hate that word and right along with it the word “nigga”.  I hate it.

I have also depicted several physical ailments such the boot spur indicating that I have spurs in my shoulder.  I have a scar from a bike accident on my knee and a cut from broken glass on my by head.  It seems like I've had a lot of head injuries because I also had an exit sign fall on my head leaving a mark as well. In addition, there are a few chicken pox marks on my chest as well as I’m the possessor of a weak bladder.  Hey when you gotta go you gotta go.  I was kind of freaked out when I had to loose my big toe nail because I caught the Gout.  That whole experienced sucked, plus I thought my toenail wasn’t going to grow back, but it did.  I was burned with a cigarette on my arm by mistake by my older brother.  Speaking of being burned although I hate smoke of any kind, I did happen to get a brand on my shoulder from my fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

My mindset is something else.  I am constantly thinking.  I love options but sometimes get lost in the self made maze options in my mind that will lead to the free and creative side.  Often times I drift off thinking of so much stuff sometimes important and relevant and other times not. I must say I love anime. This impacts a lot of the work that I do, now if its noticed or not is a different story.  I love the entertainment of it all and then being able to drift off thinking about what would I have done with the same script while admiring how they push new concepts and stories.

I chose to use gold leafing and gold accents to represent my spiritual gifts.  My golden hands show my gift of creating art through many different mediums like film, writing, painting drawing etc…  My eyes are gold because I can see the unseen.  I am able to see that imaginary picture and create it in reality on paper, canvas, or whatever medium is needed.  My third eye can sometimes see the outside spiritual nature of people and situations.   I have a big heart overflowing with love and waiting to share it with someone lucky woman.

"Love is also in the safe of memories that I cherish most. My heart is a gift, because I love people and love to help them, yet I am a little ruff around the edges sometime, because I am not and never will be perfect with my gifts.  That is why they are so ruff."

There were many other things I wanted to display in the map, but due to time restraints it was not possible, such as my father leaving and coming back into my life.  That whole healing process is also the result of the overflowing of love.  Then I just couldn’t come up with a good enough image to show one of my biggest flaw of procrastination.

Alfred David Mitchell II, was born in Detroit, Michigan and has been creating art for as long as he can remember. But it was the artist's brother, Devon Puckett, who would instill the importance of striving for excellence within the context of art. Unfortunately, Mitchell's brother would meet an untimely death in 1995.The artist made a promise to his brother that he would not give up art as he himself had done and that he would always be the best person he could be.He has obtained a Bachelors of Arts Degree from Clark Atlanta University graduating Cum Laude in his class. 


Before I started painting my body map, I watched the movie “Hustle and flow” a couple of times. In the beginning he talks about how men aren’t like dogs because we know about death, and that over all we have to make things happen regardless of what is going on around us because all we are given is right now. That is what my body map is about. The time between the past and the future. The present is sometimes like this alternate universe that we’re trapped in. The past is what got here and we are working towards the future. We very seldom pay attention to the present, to the right now.

I pulled a lot of old photographs out my mothers photo album. Photos from my childhood to now, My uncles and aunts. Family gatherings. I love my mother’s family, I identify with them the most.

"Rather than scan these photo’s for my map, I took pictures of them. Interweaving them on the paper. Then I painted over them to tie them together. After all, they are all tied together."

My image of me is done with soft pastels. On the left side it covers over parts of my life, some are pictures of my kids when they was smaller, wedding pictures or pictures of my family before the divorce ( 2yrs) before the custody battles etc… I brushed away some of the pastel so that my past could be transparent and slightly visible yet still you would have to take a harder look.

"I have always wanted to be a father since I was 8 yrs old. Some of those memories are deep they allow me to smile when I am unable to …."

My favorite pictures are the ones of me and my kids and the ones of my four kids. The end of my marriage was my death. Painting is my rebirth, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak with pictures and that’s why people call me watercolors ( my poetry name).

The left side is dreamy, like the past being almost like this dream state, fading away, I was softer then. Life was more about her than me and I was more selfless, less argumentative, more of a people pleaser. The other side is more solid in the chest and stomach, face and it wouldn’t be me without the nose. But I wasn’t going for perfection because I’m not perfect, nor am I finished.

"The colors in the wash are watercolors, bright, vibrant, yet translucent, moving. I tried to create layers of colors and pictures because our lives are layered with colors and pictures, images good, bad, and indifferent." 

I love working with watercolors and paper. The way the paper stretches and is pliable. The wash is sometimes a piece within its self. The first layer telling you how to apply the second layer. They let you know which colors should drip and which ones shouldn’t. The dripping over the photos shows how they bleed over into other areas of your life. Starting from the top images bleeding into the bottom image, and then off the page. The continuous flow.

For me, painting myself nude was the only way to peel away who I thought I was so I could see who I really am. A man naked, vulnerable with nothing to hide. Taking off the clothes took away those things that don’t allow others to see the scares, the skin and the penis which in early art was considered to vile an image to be viewed publicly. Naked, I became a nude. A piece of art still unfinished. A work in progress. I believe people take love for granted and that is the look on my face turned from the past looking towards the future looking for love.

Jamele Wright Sr. is the founder of the Neo Renaissance Art House and is heavily involved in the arts: Writing, painting, performing, and curating.