The Immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cells, named HeLa cells, produce over 300 scientific publications a month and are a case study for dubious scientific ethics. Simultaneously a triumph of science and a dark stain of the past, Henrietta Lacks has left a lasting and precious legacy across science and medicine. She deserves to be remembered.

More about Henrietta:

This painting is actually going to be part of a Liverpool Tate Exchange show about the life of Henrietta Lacks from the 31st September – 6th October! So technically I can now say I’ve had my art in the Tate.

To go with the whole Tate, I have poured more arty bs into the painting than I have since A level art. Allow me to explain. *ahem*

– a long shadow = the legacy she has left behind

– misty/indistinct background and body = Henrietta Lacks and her family was never credited or given anything. She Passed away at the age of 31 and was virtually forgotten in time. People probably work with her cells without knowing where they came from.

– the basket of cells clutched to her body with some cells floating off – the basket idea came from the Nordic myth of Idunn and her apples of immortality. Idunn carries a basket of fruit with her and would give them to other Norse gods so that they could remain young forever. Henrietta holds immortal cells that escape her without her permission and these cells are the reason for numerous medicinal discoveries, aiding and extending the lives of others through the medicines that comes from HeLa research.

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