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FLINT, Mich. (AP) — An artist and a fashion designer are planning to make clothing out of the water bottles piling up from the lead-tainted water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Conceptual artist Mel Chin has teamed up with Detroit native Tracy Reese and the Queens Museum in New York City. They plan to turn Flint’s water bottles into raincoats, swimwear and other clothing, the Flint Journal reported .

The bottles collected from homes, community centers and other Flint locations will be sent to Unifi Inc. in North Carolina and formed into thread and fabric. Those materials will then come back to Flint for seamstresses to put together.

Reese, who’s known for designing the dress Michelle Obama wore at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, is designing the clothing patterns for the project. A fashion show is planned this spring in New York City, followed by a show in Flint and the potential for clothing production in the future.

Flint’s water issues began after the city started tapping the Flint River for its water supply in 2014. The river water wasn’t properly treated to prevent pipe corrosion, leading to elevated lead levels and residents’ need to use bottled water.

Chin, who worked for years as part of the Fundred Dollar Bill project to eliminate lead poisoning in children, said it was important to think about what the city’s future looks like beyond the water crisis.

“It’s about something that is empty, like a water bottle, fulfilling the potential of jobs and manufacturing that has also been lost,” he said, adding that opportunities “of hope and renewal occur here.”

Laura Raicovich, executive director of the Queens Museum, said she admires the way artists like Chin “can contribute to the transformation of the really tough issues that we face as a society.”


Information from: The Flint Journal,