The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. will pay homage to Henrietta Lacks through art. The cultural institution recently acquired a painting of Lacks that will live at the National Portrait Gallery, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The vibrant piece was created by visual artist Kadir Nelson, the news outlet writes. The artistic details capture the essence of Lacks’ legacy. In the painting Lacks is standing in front of the “Flower of Life” symbol which is representative of eternal life and the flowers on her dress resemble cell structures which is symbolic to how her cells furthered medical research. The painting will spend time in both the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“It is fitting that Henrietta Lacks be honored at two Smithsonian museums, as each approaches American history from unique and complementary perspectives,” Kim Sajet, Director, National Portrait Gallery told the Baltimore Sun. “Lacks’ story presents moral and philosophical questions around issues of consent, racial inequalities, the role of women, medical research and privacy laws, providing rich platforms for historical understanding and public dialogue.”
The portrait will live at the National Portrait Gallery from May 15 through November 4.
Lacks was the focus of a 2017 HBO movie called “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” which was produced by Oprah Winfrey, that delved into how her fateful battle with cervical cancer helped create vaccines and further research surrounding cancer. “I live to tell stories that touch on what it means to be a black woman in the world, so I still feel it’s a miracle that we know it was an African-American woman who contributed all this to the medical field,” Winfrey told the New York Times.
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