Luke Jerram's flameworked glass models of viruses such as Smallpox (rear) and HIV (foreground) deftly combine sculpture, science, and current events.
British multimedia artist Luke Jerram’s exquisite glass sculptures depicting deadly human viruses was spotted by a science blog and that, in turn, was spotted by a Seattle weekly newspaper’s blog, helping to take his highly conceptual artwork to a wider audience. By limiting the series to well-known viruses that are often lethal, Jerram heightens the contrast between the delicate beauty of viruses he portrays and their frightening consequences. The clear flameworked glass models, which also include Swine Flu and SARS, are presented as pristine objects of contemplation, a far cry from the nervous panic they engender when discussed in the mainstream press. An exhibition of Jerram’s work at a gallery in England just ended earlier this month. His model of the H1N1 Swine Flu virus was recently acquired by the Wellcome Trust which has leant the work to the Mori Museum in Tokyo for an exhibition in November called “Medicine + Art” that will include work by Damien Hirst.
Luke Jerram's glass study of the HIV virus is just one of a series of sculptures of deadly human viruses created in collaboration with a university researcher.
Jerram’s glass viruses are actually a departure for this 36-year-old artist whose ambitious projects have primarily been closely researched investigations of human perception and the subconscious using sound and light. He has orchestrated a morning outdoor concert delivered to a sleeping public via hot air balloons, and created a highly interactive dream-enhancement installation where viewers sleep in a gallery space. In 2001, Jerram won the NESTA three-year fellowship, an award encouraging innovation in science, technology, and art.
More information about Luke Jerram’s glass sculptures and many installations can be found on his website.