“Aquae Bloom” is a four piece fashion look created to depict the Cyanobacteria growths in Lake Mendota, Wisconsin. This stems from graduate students Riley Hale and Krystyn Kibler’s research on the characterization of microbes in freshwater lakes, how their communities change, and what kinds of physical and chemical processes they do. The dress is made of layered mesh fabric of various green and tan shades. It visually depicts the movement of the algae growth on the surface of the lake, and the beauty in the fluidity of the growth cycles. The outer skirt, jacket, and hat that is worn over the top is made of clear plastic vinyl. Within the garment construction, colored mesh is added to seams and green feathers are inserted to add the illusion of the algae. The microscopic images are also painted on the vinyl’s surface to contrast the large scale of the lake with the equally beautiful structure of the Cyanobacteria. The video presented emphasizes the connection fashion can make to the Cyanobacteria by projecting images and videos of the organisms upon the model and presenting the model emerging from the lake. Through partnering with Water@UW, “Aquae Bloom” is able to connect with the community by showing the importance of preserving and caring for the freshwater environment in regards to freshwater microbial ecology.


Claire Stovall is a second year undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She is studying Textiles and Fashion Design with certificates in Graphic Design and Entrepreneurship. This is her first Art & Science collaboration project, and she has loved the entire process. In her work, she loves connecting physical and digital mediums and pushing the boundaries between the two. Outside of art, Claire enjoys skiing, traveling, reading, and going to UW Badger games!


The McMahon Lab at UW-Madison looks to local lakes throughout Wisconsin to learn more about the ecology and evolution of freshwater microbes. Riley Hales [pictured left] and Krystyn Kibler [pictured right] are both graduate students in the McMahon Lab studying cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Mendota. At the surface, these have a bad rep for being icky, gross, and overall unpleasant, but they are also one of the most beautiful things as well!

Funded by the Center for Humanities HEX-U Undergraduate Exchange.