“Past, Present, Future” represents the variola virus (smallpox), the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19), and an unknown future viral mutation.
False colors are often added to images of viruses to help viewers visualize their structure and understand how they interact with cells. Jerram, who is red-green colorblind, worked with industrial glassblowers to create a more faithful representation of these tiny infectious agents.
Jerram accepted the commission for “Past, Present, Future” from Duke Engineering in late January of 2020, when COVID-19 was emerging as a serious public health threat in Hubei province, China. By the time his work was completed just eight weeks later, the disease was pandemic.
- “Virus Art” (BBC Sounds, April 2020)
- “You Can Get up Close to This Coronavirus—It's Made of Glass” (Wired, March 2020)
- “Gorgeous glass sculptures let you see into the world's most deadly viruses” (The Verge, 2014)