Blackness Al Inside, 2019 | Kimberly Becoat
“blackness all inside – Henrietta Lacks”
Acrylic, Sumi ink, Gold leaf, Collage images of HeLa cells on canvas.
4ft x 6ft
Kimberly M. Becoat is a contemporary mixed-media artist whose work is a stylistic abstraction with a conceptual investigation of new materials and visual experiences with social commentary.
She uses a variety of art materials including acrylic paint, Sumi ink, and watercolor as well as less conventional items like sand, tar paper, foil, candy wrappers, and other detritus. Her most recent abstract & conceptual work is an investigation of urban environments meant to create “urban displacement”, such as in public housing – aimed to surgically remove “massive amounts of Blacks and Latinos” into designated forgotten pockets of city landscapes.
Kimberly has been featured in a number of exhibits including her most recent solo exhibition, Welcome to Urbania at RUSH Arts Gallery NY, and her solo exhibit, New Abstractions at Essie Green Galleries, Capital One Bank in NY, BAMart at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, MoCADA Museum, (The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, the Deutsche Bank as well as the television shows, Netflix Original Series “Luke Cage” and the FX series, The Americans.
A few other exhibitions include: Dadaesque, 701 CCA Gallery (Columbia, South Carolina), Respond, SMACK Mellon Gallery, (Brooklyn, NY) Honoring Romare Bearden, The Corridor Gallery (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Crown Heights Gold, Skylight Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, and Dirty Sensibilities: A 21st Century Exploration of the New American Black South, at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, New York, NY. Kimberly is a native New Yorker, born in Harlem NY – and presently resides and works as an artist in Brooklyn, NY.
About “blackness all inside” – Enter Henrietta
Born in the South, poor, working as a tobacco farmer; whose life took a turn into death in 1951, from the colossal devastation of cervical cancer. Within the conﬁnes of the colored ward of
John Hopkins Hospital – her cells were taken by a surgeon while she lay on the operating table; his mission deeper than healing- a search for cures and research. The remnants of Henrietta would defy logic. Those same cancerous cells that caused “blackness all inside” from radium treatment, would prove to be immortal. Would be the catalyst for the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization, cloning, cancer research and the effects of the atom bomb. Those cells would be sold again and again like the slaves she came from, to labs all over the world. The HeLa (hee-la) cells made Henrietta, Wonder Woman. She would never know it. Her children would live half their lives before knowing it. The greatest gift of love – to save humanity, from a woman that would not live past the early 30s herself.
If the question “Aint I a Woman?” is posed by another wondrous Black revolutionary Sojourner Truth in the inclusion of Black women holding agency to their own body and civil rights- there is no question that Henrietta Lacks is such a woman. The protagonist Black woman of possibly the last century and centuries to come. A woman who resides still here, not quite resting- but at the ready in a Petri-dish ironic as that sounds. These works on Henrietta are a mission to have her exist cohesively WHOLE – an incomplete task that was broken by the hands of man in the name of science. I needed Henrietta to bloom and multiply, rejuvenated in her sassiness and hard-earned smile with high heels realigned with spirit tossed on a 50 year plus journey throughout this world. Invisible woman, no more, Henrietta Lacks is has arrived.