Algae Blooms in Humans by Ollie Schenck

Algae Blooms in Humans

Gouache Watercolor Paints

Ollie Schenck, University of Wisconsin-Superior

In Collaboration with Hannah Ramage, Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve

Algae Blooms in Humans shows the personification of the bodies of water where harmful algae are located. These blooms can harm natural wildlife while at the same time, looking very beautiful. Looking at these algae under a microscope can look extremely interesting as well, which is shown in the orb the woman is holding, based on real shapes seen under a microscope. The colors of the woman’s ‘skin’ are matched to the real colors of the water and algae blooms in photos sent by the researchers.

“Working on this was really fun! It was a change of pace from the way I normally do art.” –Schenck

“It is fun to view water in a new way. Instead of numbers and nutrients, there is color and meaning.” –Ramage


Ollie Schenck (They/Them) is a self-taught artist from Wisconsin, who mainly works with pencil and paper, watercolor, and digital art. Ollie likes to work with self-expression and personification. Special effects makeup is something Ollie also dabbles in!  You can connect with them on Instagram: @olliesdoesart

ABOUT THE Water Partner

Hannah Ramage, a researcher at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, is leading a water quality investigation. This project aims to characterize St. Louis River estuary nutrient and phytoplankton dynamics in order to understand what contributes to degraded algal communities and algal blooms. Working with many partners in the Duluth-Superior region, this project will help support the establishment of a long term monitoring strategy for the estuary. You can learn more the NERRS Science Collaborative project here.