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L.A. Sparks teams up with Honeywood Foundation

Juliana D. Norwood | 5/2/2012, 5 p.m.

The Varnette P. Honeywood Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides artistic scholarships and art supplies to high school and college students, as well as hosts various art workshops. The foundation also provides funding for reproductive cancer research and contributes to health awareness in the community.

As an artist whose work was used in episodes of "The Cosby Show," "Amen," "227," various other television shows and movies, Honeywood had a major impact on the appreciation of Black art.

Honeywood's artwork, including her 1974 painting "Birthday," hung on the walls of the Huxtable living room on the set of "The Cosby Show." She had been asked to create a painting to be included for the show's pilot and different examples of her paintings were cycled through during the show's run. She later created a mural as a backdrop for Cosby's television series "Kids Say the Darndest Things." She worked together with Bill Cosby to create the characters and illustrations in the 12 books in the series, which became the basis for the Nick Jr. series "Little Bill."

Cosby credited Honeywood for the positive depictions of African American life in which "you can see teenagers doing homework, a family cooking a meal, girls doing their hair," rather than showing "segregation, starving and homelessness."

Her artwork was seen on television, movies and books covers across the globe. Her family started the nonprofit organization, Varnette P. Honeywood Foundation, which has two goals: helping students who are interested in art with supplies and helping the community to become more aware of reproductive cancer and to hopefully see its end.

Reproductive cancer took Honeywood's life Sept. 12, 2010, after a two-year battle. The Varnette P. Honeywood Foundation plans to provide funding to various hospitals and laboratories that are conducting research for reproductive cancers, and to organize clinics, workshops and health fairs throughout the community. The foundation will also offer cancer awareness through education on risk factors and prevention, as well as afford complimentary therapies regarding reproductive cancers to people afflicted with the disease.

The L.A. Sparks and the Varnette P. Honeywood Foundation will present the Hoops and Heels Fundraiser for Reproductive Cancer at the Sparks game against the San Antonio Silver Stars on June 24. The game will be preceded by a mixer and a silent auction of Honeywood artwork. The pregame events will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the Staple Center Suites. The game will begin at 5:30 p.m.