Fading in Freshwater by Caitlyn Kizer

Fading in Freshwater (15” x 19”) communicates findings about how herbicides break down in Wisconsin’s lakes. 2,4-D is one of the common herbicides used to control Eurasian watermilfoil, an invasive plant that can block sunlight from other species under the lake’s surface and thus cause them to die off. While the herbicide is helpful in fending off this pesky plant, its concentrations in the environment need to be monitored and managed due to potential human health risks.

UW-Madison Ph.D student Amber White, studying under Dr. Christy Remucal, conducted research on how long the chemical stays around by testing water and sediment samples from lakes around Wisconsin. Her team found that photochemical degradation – in essence, degradation by sunlight – of 2,4-D is very slow. Rather, they concluded that microbes in the sediment must be driving degradation of the chemical, essentially using it as a food source. 

One of the things Kizer appreciates about the medium of lithography is it enables them to create gradual transitions in color and opacity. In Fading in Freshwater, Kizer depicts the molecular structure of 2,4-D in a repeating pattern. While the pattern retains most of its opacity on the sunlit side, it fades out on the side with the microbes to illustrate their importance in the herbicide’s breakdown processad


Caitlyn Kizer is a senior at UW-Madison pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a certificate in Environmental Studies, so they were excited to bridge these two interests with the Flow Project. Their artistic pursuits range from printing poster-size lithographs to fabricating intricate pieces of jewelry. A life-long love and curiosity of the natural environment, as well as explorations of self-identity and memory, are the threads that run through their work. When Kizer is not in the studio, you can catch them hiking, cooking, or hanging with their beloved cat Claire. Explore more of their work here.

ABOUT THE Water Partner

Christy Remucal is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her aquatic chemistry group focuses on the fate of polar organic contaminants, such as pesticides and PFAS, in both natural and engineering aquatic systems.