Exhibition to Feature Artist Kadir Nelson and Poet Saul Williams.

HBO announces the official launch of “The HeLa Project,” a culturally-grounded, multi-media exhibition inspired by the highly anticipated HBO film, THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne. Directed by George C. Wolfe, the film is based on Rebecca Skloot’s critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller of the same name.

The film tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line that ultimately led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, changing countless lives and the face of medicine forever.

“The HeLa Project” is designed to celebrate Henrietta Lacks, the woman – to give her a voice and to humanize and recognize this wonderful being. The exhibition features an original portrait by two-time Caldecott Honor Award-winning artist Kadir Nelson and a touching, original poem by Saul Williams. Additional art, curated by Lewis Long of Long Gallery Harlem, includes works by Derrick Adams, Zoe Buckman, Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich, Doreen Garner, and Tomashi Jackson. The product of these elements, plus an educational, sculptural installation about the HeLa cells, all converge in this engaging experience.

The multi-market exhibition will run April 7th – April 9th in SoHo, New York (465 W. Broadway, Fri – Sat, 11am – 7pm, Sun 12pm – 5pm).

“The HeLa Project” will be making additional stops in Atlanta, GA on April 13th – April 16th at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and finally in Washington, DC at the National Museum of African-American History & Culture.

About Henrietta Lacks
Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951), an African-American woman and married mother of five, living in Baltimore, MD, was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 31. Under treatment at Johns Hospital, tissue from her malignant tumor was removed without her knowledge or that of her family, a standard practice of the day. Her cells, inexplicably, continued to grow and multiply outside her body in laboratory conditions, which became the first immortal human cell line. The HeLa cells, as they became known, led to the birth of the biomedical industry which saw those cells used in tens of thousands of research studies over the years.

Henrietta’s cells were essential in the creation of the polio vaccine; as well as groundbreaking research on measles, mumps, HIV, Ebola, HPV and countless other diseases; and advancements in cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Additionally, her cells were used to safely test cosmetics (replacing lab animals), to research the effect of deep sea pressure, even to study what causes aging. Amazingly, HeLa cells are utilized to this day!

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