MEMORIAL TO HENRIETTA LACKS

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Headlining today’s post … Henrietta Lacks & Johns Hopkins … early morning light on the mural by Gaia

Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman who died at a young age of cervical cancer in 1951. Unbeknownst to her or her family, Johns Hopkins Hospital biopsied her tumor during her treatment there. While most human cells survive only a few days in the laboratory, Henrietta Lacks’ cells had a unique indestructible characteristic. Medical researcher Dr. George Otto Gey used her cells to create a strain known today as the HeLa cell line. Since its discovery and creation, researchers such as Jonas Salk have used the immortal HeLa cell line to transform medical science and discover treatments for a variety of diseases. The book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is a fascinating read.

Johns Hopkins was a white man, one of the wealthiest businessmen of the mid-1800s, a philanthropist, and an abolitionist. He was a Quaker whose family freed its slaves in the early 1800s. The most well-known of his bequests is the Johns Hopkins Hospital and University.

Last week, Gaia completed a mural of Henrietta Lacks and Johns Hopkins in East Baltimore. In addition to their portraits, the mural includes various flowers and microscopic images of the cultured HeLa cells. Yvonne Hardy-Phillips curated this mural project for her master’s thesis at the Maryland Institute College of Arts.

Gaia and Yvonne Hardy-Phillips

Gaia and Yvonne Hardy-Phillips

Heading up in the lift

Heading up in the lift

Work begins

Precariously balanced, work begins

At the end of Day 1

At the end of Day 1

Day 2 begins

Early on Day 2

Lined up and ready to go

Lined up and ready to go

Work progressing on the portrait of Henrietta Lacks

Work progressing on the portrait of Henrietta Lacks

Work progressing on the portrait of Johns Hopkins

Work progressing on the portrait of Johns Hopkins

At the end of Day 2

At the end of Day 2

One cannot paint in the rain

One cannot paint in the rain

Gaia waiting out the rain

Gaia waiting out the rain

The artist's palette

The street artist’s palette

The third day

The third day

A streetscape view from Harford Avenue

A streetscape view from Harford Avenue

Henrietta Lacks on Day 3

Henrietta Lacks on Day 3

Art in a can

Art in a can

The view on Day 4

The view on Day 4

Gaia talking with local neighborhood residents

Gaia talking with local neighborhood residents

Star light, star bright - special place in the heavens

Star light, star bright – special place in the heavens

Busy at work

Busy at work

Near the end of Day 4

Near the end of Day 4

Gaia stops for another chat

Gaia stops for another chat

Day 5

Day 5

HeLa Cell

HeLa Cell

Sharing and caring

Sharing and caring

Yvonne Hardy-Phillips and friends

Yvonne Hardy-Phillips and friends

Heading up to repair the gutter

Heading up to repair the gutter

Gaia and Yvonne Hardy-Phillips

Gaia and Yvonne Hardy-Phillips

Loving the view from above

Loving the view from above

First light

First light – streetscape view from Harford Avenue

Shortly after sunrise

Shortly after sunrise

Henrietta Lacks by Gaia

Henrietta Lacks by Gaia

Johns Hopkins by Gaia

Johns Hopkins by Gaia

You will find this memorial to Henrietta Lacks on the corner of E Biddle Street and Harford Avenue. Be sure to also see the additional artwork Yvonne Hardy-Phillips curated on the south side of this building: the mural entitled Many Hands Make Things Grow by Katey Truhn and Jessie Unterhalter; and, the large-scale wheatpaste project entitled I Am That I Am by Christopher Metzger. Ms. Hardy-Phillips envisions a few additional art projects at the site.

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Many Hands Make Things Grow – mural by Katey Truhn & Jessie Unterhalter

I Am That I Am - wheatpaste by Christopher Metzger

I Am That I Am – wheatpaste by Christopher Metzger

Detail from I Am That I Am - wheatpaste by Christopher Metzger

Detail from I Am That I Am – wheatpaste by Christopher Metzger

 

 

 


© All images and text are copyrighted and are the property of David Muse, unless noted otherwise. You may use any images or text for non-commercial purposes only if you credit the photographer and Charm City Streets. Thank you!

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