Kerra Witte

Bio. F111

STEAM Project


Mitosis is the process of cell replication, fixating on how cells divide, transmitting their genetic information from the original cell to each divide-resulting cell. When this process has any malfunctions, it can completely change the course of the cell’s purpose. This can cause a number of bodily consequences, and it is especially crucial to understand it when discussing cancer.

Cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute, is caused “when cells divide uncontrollably and spread into surrounding tissues” (National Cancer Institute, 2021). Mitosis allows cancer to spread by continuing its intended processes, being interrupted or altered by the cancer cells in order to use mitosis for its own reproduction. Instead of the body stopping the disease with white blood cells, like what happens with the flu or any other disease, cancer changes the very fabric of cell multiplication, making white blood cells unable to stop it from spreading.

The Manhattan Project was started in order to build the atomic bomb used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki towards the end of World War II. During the building process, nuclear materials were created and used inside the bomb, and wasted materials or excess materials were then disposed via burial in various St. Louis dumpsites. Over the last 80 years since the creation of the atomic bomb in the ‘40s, radiation has seeped into local underground waterways, spreading across St. Louis, MO, and into the lives of all the citizens in the contaminated region. Discovered in 2019 by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a number of medical issues began rising up in number, including “lung cancer, bone cancer, or leukemia” (KSDK, 2022). According to the United States Census Bureau from 2021, about 293,000 people live in St. Louis, MO. The contamination spread for miles in the surrounding areas of Coldwater Creek. My family has been absorbing the radiation for 3 generations, my grandparents on my father’s side being the first generation in our family to live in Coldwater Creek. Both my parents lived in neighboring areas afflicted by the radiation, myself being the final generation to be exposed for over a decade of my life. The water, the dirt, and the air all carry particles that can lead to serious health consequences.

My art piece for this project will be explained starting from the top, and working to the bottom of my piece. At the top of the mannequin body, we see two portions: an x-ray of a chest, with a pink ribbon signifying breast cancer awareness, and a tumor painted onto the x-ray. My grandmother had breast cancer, a struggle she and many other Coldwater Creek citizens endured due to the radiation they were exposed to. The other top quarter shows newspapers from the time of the atomic bomb’s development, red tape and redacted portions relating to how the government kept the atomic bomb’s creation under secrecy. Moving to the core of the body, we see paint of blue and yellow, the blue being the water of Coldwater Creek, the yellow being bubbles of radiation, small warning signs for radiation inside the bubbles. The lower bottom is broken down into two portions again, the left side showing a green background, a printed map of the exposure zones across the St. Louis area. To the right, you see current reports and legislation about the U.S. government’s approach to the areas of concern regarding the health of St. Louis’s lands and people.


Agency for toxic substances and disease registry. (n.d.). 

Schmit, T. L., & Ahmad, N. (2007, July 9). Regulation of mitosis via mitotic kinases: New Opportunities for Cancer Management. American Association for Cancer Research. 

Study: Pfas found in Coldwater Creek | (n.d.-b). is cancer?. National Cancer Institute. (n.d.).,are%20also%20called%20genetic%20changes.

One Comment

  1. This project displays the mannequin body to explain the x-ray of a chest that signifies the breast cancer awareness month and a tumor displayed upon the x-ray. The mannequin tells the story of the author’s grandmother having breast cancer due to the Manhattan Project building an atomic bomb and being exposed to radiation by the area they were in, Coldwater Creek. The mannequin also displays the newspapers from the time of the nuclear bomb creation under secrecy. This makes it to the body’s core to display the blue paint, the water of Coldwater Creek, and the yellow, the warning signs for the radiation inside the bubbles.
    The project also concerns how cell replication may lead to cancer. The project explains the steps to cell replication and the malfunction in the cell replication process; when there is an overproduction in cell dividing, this changes the course and purpose of the cell, which may lead to several consequences, cancer being one of them. Mitosis makes cancer spread by continuing the process of mitosis, but instead of using the cells to make more healthy cells, the white blood cells cannot stop the red mutated blood cells from spreading.

    Kilie Jacquez

Comments are closed.