Glass Microbiology

Luke Jerram’s multidisciplinary arts practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations, and live artworks. He lives in the United Kingdom and creates work across the globe.

Glass Microbiology is a collection of glass models of human viruses. Unlike the colorful images of viruses that are common, Jerram’s sculptures are colorless, like the viruses themselves. By extracting the color from the imagery and creating jewel-like sculptures in glass, a complex tension develops between the artworks’ beauty and what they represent.

He also raises an important question about how the coloring of scientific microbiological imagery affects our understanding of these phenomena. Are the images colored for scientific or aesthetic purposes? How does a viewer between actual and imagined colors in images? How does this affect the viewer’s response? 

Scientific publishers are beginning to accept Jerram’s perspective. Photographs of his glass artworks are now used widely in medical journals, text books, and media stories in journals such as the Lancet, the British Medical Journal, and Nature.

The sculptures are designed in consultation with virologists from the University of Bristol, using a combination of different scientific photographs and models, and made in collaboration with glassblowers Kim George, Brian Jones, and Norman Veitch.

The Glass Microbiology sculptures are in museum collections around the world, including The Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Wellcome Collection in London, and the Museum of Glass in Shanghai. Visit Luke Jerram’s website here:

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Cite this Article

Jerram, Luke. “Glass Microbiology.” Issues in Science and Technology 33, no. 3 (Spring 2017).

Vol. XXXIII, No. 3, Spring 2017