As Told by Haruka and Heliodoro, Map of Selves

By Haruka Aoki

As told by Haruka and Heliodoro, Map of Selves tells the autobiographical tale of a soul’s journey, one as Haruka, or the present self, and the other as Heliodoro, a past version of the self who was active five hundred years ago. While Haruka narrates the story of healing their scars from violence as they surrender themselves to love, Heliodoro expresses his longing and love for his lost partner as he takes care of their growing child. The maps plot significant points in Haruka and Heliodoro’s lives and are scattered in a cosmic backdrop. This piece lays out the parallel journeys of two queer people’s lives and reunites them by physically combining their stories into a double-sided map. The work honors the spiritual growth that has occurred over lifetimes and continues today. The artist hopes that readers will share the relief (at long last!) that Haruka and Heliodoro experience as they tend to and begin healing their wounds together.

Headshot of Haruka Aoki

Haruka Aoki (she/they) is a queer Japanese artist and poet-illustrator residing in Lisbon, Portugal. Growing up often unsure of where “home” would be next, Haruka found and continues to find comfort in nature and community, a constant starting point in their work. Their narrative artwork appears regularly in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and their debut picture book Fitting In was published by Sky Pony Press in 2022. Haruka often feels deeply grateful to be an earthling.

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