What does a "real" cancer cell look like?

Acrylic on Canvas painting by Angela Canada Hopkins


"Are they "real" cancer cells?"  This is the most frequently asked question by viewers of my paintings.  The quick answer is, no, they are not realistic medical illustrations.  They are, for the most part, conceptual where the idea and content are central.

The cells are invisible underneath the surface and almost don't seem real.  If you've had cancer or been affected by it I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.  You feel the effects of it but you never stop to ask, what is it?  In fact you want to run if someone even mentions the "C" word.

It took me many years before I was ready to ask questions.  After researching cancer and studying photographs I wanted to replace my memory and thoughts with something positive.  I wanted to make it "real" in my artistic way.  The colorful and beautiful cell paintings are my way of taking control and overcoming everything negative to do with the terrible disease.

If you'd like to know what a "real" cancer cell looks like, you'd need a scanning electron microscope, or visit these sites to see photographs:

Environmental Graffiti

Science Photo Library

National Cancer Institute