DC -- Donald W. Reynolds Center (NPG) -- Exhibit: Henrietta Lacks:
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Description of Pictures: Henrietta Lacks
May 15, 2018 – November 4, 2018
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recognizes the life of Henrietta Lacks with the installation of a 2017 portrait by Kadir Nelson. It was jointly acquired by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and is shared by the two museums.
Lacks (1920–1951), whose great-great-grandmother was an enslaved person, lost her life to cervical cancer at age 31. During her treatment, doctors took cells from her body and discovered they lived long lives and reproduced indefinitely in test tubes. These “immortal” HeLa cells have since contributed to over 10,000 medical patents, aiding research and benefiting patients with polio, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions.
Nelson used visual elements to convey Lacks’ legacy. The wallpaper features the “Flower of Life,” a symbol of immortality; the flowers on her dress recall images of cell structures; and two missing buttons allude to the cells taken from her body without permission.
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Copyrights: All pictures were taken by amateur photographer Bruce Guthrie (me!) who retains copyright on them. Free for non-commercial use with attribution. See the [Creative Commons] definition of what this means. "Photos (c) Bruce Guthrie" is fine for attribution. Feel free to use in publications and pages with attribution but you don't have permission to sell the photos themselves. A free copy of any printed publication using any photographs is requested. Descriptive text, if any, is from a mixture of sources, quite frequently from signs at the location or from official web sites; copyrights, if any, are retained by their original owners.
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LACKS_180517_08.JPG: Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951)
Born Roanoke, Virginia
Henrietta Lacks, whose great-great-grandmother was enslaved, died of cervical cancer at age thirty-one. Upon her death, doctors discovered that cells from her body lived long lived and reproduced indefinitely in petri dishes. These "immortal" HeLa cells have since contributed to over 10,000 medical patents relating to polio, AIDS, Parkinson's disease, and other conditions.
Considering the history of medical testing on African Americans without their consent, the fate of Lacks's cells raises questions about ethics, privacy, and race. By addressing these issues forthrightly in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010), author Rebecca Skloot prompted Oprah Winfrey and HBO to make a film on the subject.
Kadir Nelson's portrait of Lacks uses visual elements to convey her legacy. The wallpapers features the "Flower of Life," a symbol of immorality. The pattern of her dress recalls cellular structures, and the garment's missing buttons signal the absence of those cells that were taken from her body, without permission.
Kadir Nelson, 2017
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2018 photos: Equipment this year: I continued to use my Fuji XS-1 cameras but, depending on the event, I also used a Nikon D7000.
Trips this year:
(February) a Civil War Trust conference in Greenville, NC,
(May/June) anual American Battlefield Trust conference in Newport News, VA,
(July) my 13th consecutive trip to San Diego Comic-Con via Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles,
(August) 2 two-day trips to New York City,
(September) an American Battlefield Trust dinner in Chicago, IL with on-route visits to Charleston, WV, Louisville, KY, Saint Louis, MO, and Toledo, OH,
(October) another two-day trip to New York City for the New York Comic Con.
Number of photos taken this year: about 535,000.