Since 2004, Jerram has been turning viruses and other pathogens into stunning glass sculptures that are just as eerie as they are beautiful as part of an ongoing series titled "Glass Microbiology." He chooses some of the most feared and deadly subjects out there too, making chilling portraits of everything from HIV to malaria.
Though his sculptures can appear exaggerated, with weapon-like barbs and eerie bulges, they're actually all made entirely to scale. Of course, they're vastly larger than their original forms: his virus sculptures are around 1 million times their actual size.
While Jerram creates plans for the sculptures, they're sent off to one of several professional glassblowers to build them. Five models are made of each design, and as he's added more, the sculptures have toured the world through museums and galleries.
Luke Jerram began a visually scientific sculpture series entitled Glass Microbiology. With help from both expert virologists and talented glassblowers, Jerram has created a collection of glass sculptures accurately depicting some of the most prevalent viruses out there, including HIV, malaria, and the swine flu (notoriously recognized in the 2009 flu pandemic).
What inspired this project was the constant, inaccurate depictions of viruses in textbooks and media outlets. Since the wavelength for color is larger than the microbes, they do not naturally have a pigment. However, in many renderings they appear as bright or multi-colored entities. The artist felt this presented not only a skewed idea of each infectious agent, but also hindered the learning process if each microbe is different, in terms of artistic representation.
As a result of his efforts, Jerram's work has now made its way into countless medical texts and is being used in the media as well. They provide not only accurate renderings of their subjects, but also quite fetching formations. Their sculptural forms are stunning, which makes it all the more intriguing to view such elegantly crafted pieces while keeping in mind how dangerous their real-life counterparts are.
I've included four of the more common and popular causes of diseases below: