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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont
A unique marine art tunnel
Last month, the George Bush International Airport in Houston, Texas, unveiled a marine art tunnel designed by Mumbai-born, marine conservation artist Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee.
Folmsbee, an Indian American contemporary artist based in Houston, created the 240-foot-long Aquarius Art Tunnel that connects international terminals D and E.
The installation looks like a massive aquarium. It features brightly hued murals in reds, yellows, greens, and blues. of abundant marine life that covers the walls from floor to ceiling. The aim behind the concept is to evoke hope and optimism towards nature, the oceans, and abundant underwater life.
A bridge between science and art
In an interview with India Currents, Folmsbee expressed satisfaction with the result of her work.
“I have used this path so many times on my international flights and now to see this space hosting my art is a great pleasure and privilege. I hope to create a bridge between science and art and shine a light on an essential and beautiful natural resource-marine life, that is in dire need of our help, now more than ever.”
The art tunnel showcases species of fish, coral, sharks, dolphins, barracudas, lobsters, and manta rays, among many other creatures, and even an oil rig that the oceans houses.
Her deep-sea dives at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the Texas coast, coral carpet that covers the tunnel floor, added Folmsbee.
Art tunnel audio
As visitors walk through the tunnel, they are serenaded by an audio component – classical music combined with the artist’s own meditative, underwater breath. Musical artist Andrew Karnavas created the accompanying sound.
“I learned a lot,” says Folmsbee, about the complexity of installing art in an airport. “This was a tough site to work in and required a lot of pre-planning and problem solving with lots of permits and decisions between onsite and offsite work.”
In order to avoid disruption at a functioning airport during daytime hours, Folmsbee and her team worked onsite from 9 P.M. through 4 A.M. She did the bulk of the work offsite, but the onsite work and last-minute touch-ups, hand painting and overall project management was a massive endeavor admits Folmsbee.
Aquarius Art Tunnel
The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, in Houston, commissioned the project on behalf of the Houston Airport System, through the city’s Civic Art Program and the Houston Arts Alliance.
“I gravitate towards public art as it can be enjoyed by all and is not restricted within the confines of a museum or a gallery,” adds Folmsbee.
The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development endorsed the Aquarius Art Tunnel for its scientific and educational importance towards ocean conservation through artistic outreach. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Sanctuary in Galveston has also endorsed the immersive art installation.
Art, conservation and the environment
Folmsbee enjoys seeing people from all walks of life enjoy the artwork installation. “Children stopping by at a mural and people taking against a dolphin drawing or someone looking up at the roof while walking between terminals brings me a lot of pleasure and contentment.”
She told India Currents that she hopes her art is instrumental in helping environmental conservation efforts not just in Houston but all over the world.
“This tunnel is a simple act of kindness to the environment. We can all work together to invest in our environment, and here in our city, through small acts of kindness,” urges Folmsbee. “Let us protect our waterways, as they are interconnected to our planet through each and every one of us.”
” Water is ours – for all of us.”
View artwork by Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee at https://www.janavimfolmsbee.com/.