Current Work

Plastisphere by Lilli Kayes

One of the greatest ecological nightmares threatening our planet’s water is plastic. As an artist addressing ecological concerns of water and the ecosystems within, the FountainsFoundation is a perfect location to exhibit my work. Rarely does one have an opportunity to link a viewer physically to a source of water while creating an art experience concerning water. Water is the life force of this planet and issues such as plastispheres indicate an overall unhealthy global ecosystem. Plastisphere is a relatively new term for an aquatic ecosystem of plastic that causes detrimental affects on the surrounding life forms. For instance, birds mistake small plastics as food and die from gastrointestinal problems. Furthermore microorganisms attach to the plastic and become a breeding ground for harmful bacterial. Increases in plastic pollutants are not only creating these unhealthy ecosystems in our oceans, but in local waters like Lake Michigan.

A Yellow Tailed Snapper was 3D scanned in order to create a plastic death mask of the organism utilizing 3D printing.   The plastic used in the creation of these death masks is bioplastic, made from corn, and does not contain any heavy metals, phthalates or BPA. This plastic represents a safer alternative to most commercial plastics as it is bio-degradable and recyclable. In addition most of the plastics used in this piece were salvaged from trashcans and repurposed. Although removing a few pieces from the trash doesn’t reduce the problem, it reflects an overall concern for better recycling practices.

The plastic these animals are ingesting is now apart of their food chain. As these animals suffer so do we, plastispheres host many kinds of harmful bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal ailments in humans if an infected fish is ingested. The replacement of the body of the fish with a plastic representation symbolizes the destruction of the natural and the rise and potential ruin of the synthetic. Out of sight, out of mind… right ?




Lilli BioLilli Kayes is an interdisciplinary artist in Chicago exploring connections between art and science. She investigates the fusion of technology and nature in her works through elements of water, live specimen, sound, video, sculpture and photography. Ecological issues pertaining to systems of water drive the focus of her work.  Her passion stems from traditions of people with deep connections to water. She grew up swimming with Cownose Rays and learning methods of fishing, crabbing and the collection of mollusks from various family members in the Chesapeake Bay.  Her goal is to create art that generates curiosity of the natural world as well as aid the viewer to become a guardian of these fragile systems.

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