Luke Jerram

“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.

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More about the glass microbiology series

Selected Press

glass coronavirus sculpture by Luke Jerram

Past, Present, Future, 2020


Purchased 2020. Proceeds from the sculpture’s commission were donated by Jerram to medical relief organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders.

Location: Wilkinson Building Level 3

Present (SARS-CoV-2) pictured above.

glass smallpox sculpture by Luke Jerram

glass virus sculpture by Luke Jerram