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Henrietta Lacks

Searching for the likeness of Ms. Henrietta Lacks.

In 1951, a 31-year old African-American woman named Henrietta Lacks passed away of cervical cancer.  Outlived by her children, she was also outlived by her biopsy, which originated the first immortal human cell line, HeLa.  HeLa cells have since revolutionized medicine and been key to such achievements as the polio and HPV vaccines.  This series of portraits are an attempt at restoring the likeness of this extraordinary individual.


Click for the story behind these pieces >


Presented at the 18th Annual HeLa Women's Health conference, at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta on September 13th, 2013, with the talk "Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells: an artist's perspective on multiplicity and continuity." Also presented at Open Books, Open Minds at Rhode Island College, with the talk "An art study of Henrietta Lacks and the Hela cell line," April 2013.


Hela, Henrietta Lacks, art, science

Hela cells searching no. 4

Oil on canvas

App. 56 x 56 in



See the related series based on microscopic imagery of HeLa cells >

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