Beauty in science

Mexican sculptor assembles an emotional tribute to COVID-19 research

Covid-19 sculpture at La Jolla Institute

Juan de Dios Sánchez Arce

Juan de Dios Sánchez Arce

After reading about La Jolla Institute for Immunology’s efforts to fight COVID-19, sculptor Juan de Dios Sánchez Arce (pictured right), generously gifted to the Institute a large-scale ceramic interpretation of the SARS-CoV-2 structure, adorned with multicolored roses, in appreciation of the researchers’ dedication.

“Let us never forget the faces of COVID-19,” says Sánchez. “In honor of the loved ones we’ve lost, the heroes on the frontlines, and those bound and determined to find the answers.”

Born in Mexico City, Sánchez grew up in an environment of both art and medicine. For 17 years, Sánchez practiced as a doctor of anesthesiology, but in 1988, he changed professions to become a ceramist. His workshop in Cuernavaca, Mexico, has been internationally recognized for its quality and knowledge of the Raku fire technique, a process that relies on manipulating chemical reactions to achieve a colorful, smooth glaze.

Sánchez sees many parallels between science and art. Both endeavors are a team effort studded with the heartbreak of seeing experiments fail—and the thrill of finally putting months or years of work out into the world.

“The failures that you had and the problems and discussions and arguments and fights—when you get to the point where you can see the piece, you say, well, it was worth making that effort because the piece is beautiful.”

Visit to watch an original LJI video about this sculpture.