Float by Astrid Hooper Lofton

I worked with Fuad Shatara at the Majumder Lab to create Float (Paper, thread, wool roving, 36” x 12”). Shatara is investigating how microplastics in waterways effects the movement of algae. The algae seem to stick to the microplastics, allowing the algae to float to the surface of the water and potentially disperse through waterways. To study his theory, Fuad cuts up white string made of plastic compounds often found in textile waste. He then deposits the small pieces in a beaker with a cluster of algae, to see how they interact. In my piece, I created a loom with white string that represents the string he cuts up in his lab. The wool roving weaved into the loom represents the algae, and how it can float to the surface of the beaker when paired with the microplastics


Astrid is a second-year student at the university. She is majoring in Human Development and Family studies, with certificates in Public Policy and Studio Art. She began her work with fiber arts when she learned how to knit as a child but reconnected with that interest in 2020 when she learned how to crochet. Since then, she has made countless stuffed animals and accessories for her friends. As seen in this piece, she is now delving into more work with wool roving and felting. More of her work can be found on Instagram @woolen.works.

ABOUT THE Water Partner

Fuad Shatara is a graduate student in the Majumder Lab in the Environmental Chemistry and Technology program at UW-Madison. His research is focused on investigating the impacts of microplastics on Harmful Algal Blooms in freshwater systems. He is interested in seeing if cyanobacteria can adhere to the surface of microplastic particles, if this adhesion will affect how these blooms disperse throughout the bodies of water, and if the presence of microplastics influences the amount of toxin being produced by these cyanobacteria.