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CMOG unveils 2010 Rakow Commission

Two new works from Luke Jerram“s “Glass Microbiology“ series have entered the collection of The Corning Museum of Glass. Last week, the Museum unveiled its annual Rakow Commission: Smallpox Virus a…

Two new works from Luke Jerram“s “Glass Microbiology“ series have entered the collection of The Corning Museum of Glass. Last week, the Museum unveiled its annual Rakow Commission: Smallpox Virus and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The two sculptures of the deadly viruses are rendered in delicate flameworked and blown glass by the British artist. Jerram creates sculptures, installations, soundscapes, and public art projects that investigate how the mind works, particularly in connection with perception and reality. His practice is multidisciplinary, and he uses whatever materials are most appropriate to realize his ideas. Jerram“s work is inspired by his research in the fields of biology, acoustic science, music, sleep research, ecology, and neuroscience. His projects range from placing upright pianos in outdoor locations in cities around the world for the public to make music (Play Me, I“m Yours) to studying the effect of sound on dreams (Dream Director) to creating a wind pavilion (Aeolus). For the Commission, Jerram created two flameworked and blown glass sculptures, Smallpox Virus and HIV, from his Glass Microbiology series. In this series, he explores the tension between the beauty of his glass sculptures, the deadly viruses that they represent, and the global impact caused by these diseases. The Smallpox Virus celebrates the 30th anniversary of the global eradication of this major disease, Jerram says. And the HIV represents humanity“s current worldwide struggle. Jerram worked with virologist Andrew Davidson to research the physical structures of the viruses, taking inspiration from high-resolution electron microscopic images and scientific models. With the help of scientific glassblowers, he created scientifically accurate depictions of notorious viruses and bacteria such as HIV, E. coli, SARS, and recently, H1N1. The sculptures are approximately one million times larger than the actual viruses. I nominated Luke Jerram for the 2010 Rakow Commission because I wanted to mark the Museum“s 25th Commission with an artwork that made reference to art history and to science, said Tina Oldknow, curator of modern glass. These two fields of inquiry have constituted the intellectual core of operations at the Museum since its opening in 1951, almost 60 years ago. Inaugurated in 1986, the Rakow Commission is awarded to professional artists whose work is not yet represented in the Museum“s collection. The commission supports new works of art in glass by encouraging emerging or established artists to venture into new areas that they might otherwise be unable to explore because of financial limitations. It is made possible through the generosity of the late Dr. and Mrs. Leonard S. Rakow, Fellows, friends, and benefactors of the Museum. Each commissioned work is added to the Museum“s collection and is displayed publicly for the first time during the Museum“s annual Seminar on Glass. Smallpox Virus and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) was unveiled 15 October 2010, following a public lecture by the artist.

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