Kyley and I both met in person for the first time at the Descience event at Doffie Studio last week. I was immediately taken with the dress she was wearing, which she made herself. We both had a great time. The setting in the art studio was a inspiring and set just the right mood. And the mini fashion show was a bonus. We met again the next day in Rhode Island where Kyley introduced me to one of her favorite cafes and we chatted over tea for over 2 hours.
She told me about her process of creating and designing, how she’s made a mood board for this project and how she keeps paper and a pencil by her bedside for last minute ideas that come to her in the middle of the night. I was so excited to see her sketches and ideas. Kyley brought a paper model that she said was inspired by the descriptions I gave her about the bacteria that I study. She also found a cool fabric that resembled some of the elements and colors from the images that I submitted. I was so intrigued to see her interpretations of my science work and how she was able to translate not just the images, but also some of the background and concepts about the bacteria into textures, designs, and outfits that looked cool. But with every sketch, I could still see elements that reminded me of something in my project or experiments, even in ways that Kyley didn’t intend. We also traded stories about working late in lab or the studio, how we got to where we are and a little bit about our families and what influenced us to fashion design/science. I loved hearing about her grandmother who had a secret stash of drawings and art that she did over her lifetime.
I can’t express how rejuvenating it’s been to work with Kyley on this project. I’m at the end of my PhD work, and just handed in my thesis a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be defending this week and am so happy that Kyley will be coming to see my defense. But when I submitted my images for Descience, I was at that low point that many graduate students experience towards the end where they may be getting tired of their projects or even doing bench science. I was certainly tired of looking at my images as I was making panel after panel of figures that showed the same two types of results. But Kyley’s enthusiasm over those images has reminded me how captivated I first felt when I joined my lab and saw bacteria infecting cells for the first time under the microscope. It’s been a true joy to be a part of Descience.