Glass Sculptures of Viruses

C0058058 Swine Flu virus sculpture

Artist Luke Jerram

Luke Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe. Luke Jerram’s practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations, live arts projects. He is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the University of West of England. Further information on Jerram’s entire practice can be found here.

About Glass Microbiology
Glass Microbiology is a body of glass work which has been developed by artist Luke Jerram since 2004. Made to contemplate the global impact of each disease, the artworks are created as alternative representations of viruses to the artificially coloured imagery received through the media. In fact, viruses have no colour as they are smaller than the wavelength of light. By extracting the colour from the imagery and creating jewel-like beautiful sculptures in glass, a complex tension has arisen between the artworks’ beauty and what they represent.

The Glass Microbiology sculptures are in museum collections around the world, including The Metropolitan Museum, NYC, The Wellcome Collection, London and The Museum of Glass, Shanghai. They are also regularly displayed in exhibitions around the globe and sold to private collectors. Famous pop stars, celebrities and scientists own works by Luke Jerram.

In 2010, Jerram received the 25th Rakow Award for the series from The Corning Museum of Glass, New York. In 2009, his sculptures were presented at The Mori Museum, Tokyo and in 2015 his sculptures were presented at ArtScience Museum, Singapore alongside Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus.

E.Coli

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This is one of the largest and most fragile of Jerram’s sculptures. Recent exhibitions of this work include the Museum of Art and Design, NYC; Glasstress, Venice Biennale; Synthesis, Manchester Science Festival; Oklahoma City Museum; Cosmo Caixa Museum, Barcelona.

Escherichia coli, commonly abbreviated to E. coli,  is a Gram-negative rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms (endotherms). Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some, such as serotype O157:H7, can cause serious food poisoning in humans, and are occasionally responsible for product recalls. The harmless strains are part of the normal flora of the gut, and can benefit their hosts by producing vitamin K2 and by preventing the establishment of pathogenic bacteria within the intestine.

HIV

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The sculptures of HIV were made as objects to hold, to contemplate the impact of the disease upon humanity.

The artworks were also created to consider how the use of artificially added colour in medical imaging affects how the imagery is read and interpreted by the public. See these examples of scientific HIV imagery. How does the choice of different colours affect their reception? In response to these questions, Jerram has created a series of transparent, three dimensional sculptures of HIV. Ironically in 2007 photographer David Sayer won an award from the Institute of Medical Imaging for the artificially coloured image (above) he took of Jerram’s HIV sculpture. With thanks to the Wellcome Collection for use of the imagery.

Zika virus

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Zika virus is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus. It is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947. From 2007 to 2016, the virus spread eastward, across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas, where the 2015–16 Zika virus epidemic reached pandemic levels.

The infection, known as Zika fever or Zika virus disease, often causes no or only mild symptoms, similar to a very mild form of dengue fever. While there is no specific treatment, paracetamol (acetaminophen) and rest may help with the symptoms. As of 2016, the illness cannot be prevented by medications or vaccines. Zika can also spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus. This can result in microcephaly, severe brain malformations, and other birth defects.

In January 2016, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel guidance on affected countries, including the use of enhanced precautions, and guidelines for pregnant women including considering postponing travel.

Spermatozoa

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A spermatozoon (plural spermatozoa) is a motile sperm cell, or moving form of the haploid cell that is the male gamete.  The term spermatozoon comes from the Greek word σπέρμα (seed) and ζῷον (living being).

These 5ft long glassworks were created in the hot shop during Jerram’s residency at the Museum of Glass, Washington 2011 the artworks were first displayed at the Heller Gallery in NYC.

The works were in part, made to celebrate fatherhood and to help Jerram come to terms with being a father himself.

Amoeba

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Amoeba  is a genus of Protozoa consisting of shapeless unicellular organisms. Standing 30cm x 40cm the glass sculpture contains all the details of the Amoeba.

Along with an E.coli artwork this glass Amoeba sculpture was commissioned by the Museo delle Scienze in Italy.

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