Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee’s “Aquarius Art Tunnel” at Houston Intercontinental Airport

HOUSTON: Travelers at Houston’s Intercontinental Airport will be transported under the sea when walking through the “Aquarius Art Tunnel” by Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee. The contemporary artist, originally from Mumbai, now residing in the Oak Forest Houston, wants to live in a world where everyone can experience the beauty of the ocean – even in between flights.

Mahimtura Folmsbee’s installation includes colorful murals of aquatic life, floor designs, lenticulars and ceiling tiles. A didactic panel explains the full features and offers augmented reality capabilities.

Original music, composed by Andrew Karnavas, plays in the space, as well as recordings provided by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Mahimtura Folmsbee also contributed sounds from her personal diving excursions. She began scuba diving 14 years ago and has completed 259 dives.

The design was inspired by Flower Garden Banks Marine National Sanctuary on the Texas coast. In the installation, Mahimtura Folmsbee included dozens of sea creatures, from coral, fish and sharks to dolphins, matra rays and octopi.

The detailed art was created with the newest mural-making technology. Mahimtura Folmsbee worked with experts at Moody Gardens to ensure the work is scientifically accurate, representing the deeper regions of the Gulf of Mexico.

The title of the installation pays homage to the constellation Aquarius, the water-bearer. The word “Aquarius” can be broken down into: “aqua,” representing water; “ri,” inspired by the Hindi word “humari,” which translates to “ours,” and finally “us.”

Marine conservation is at the center of Mahimtura Folmsbee’s oeuvre. This installation will serve as a continuation of years of effort to draw attention to the health of the world’s oceans. “Marine life and algae need our help now more than ever,” she said.

Already, the tunnel is receiving international attention. Mahimatura Folmsbee was honored with the “People’s Choice” prize from CODAawards: Collaboration of Design + Art.

Winners in other categories reside across the country – and around the globe. Mahimtura Folsmbee is bringing the award to Texas – a major win for the city of Houston.

She has been named a CODAworx 2023 Creative Revolutionary, one of the top art and design leaders changing the world.

The Aquarius Art Tunnel has been endorsed by the NOAA Sanctuary offices in Galveston and received the National Mural Award in 2023 for Region 4.

The United Nations Decades of Ocean Science For Sustainable Development, created by UNESCO, endorsed the Aquarius Art Tunnel as a global site for its scientific and educational importance towards ocean conservation through artistic outreach.

Mahimtura Folmsbee is the first female South Asian artist to be featured in the Houston Airports Public Art Program and collection. The tunnel, commissioned by Houston Airports, has an added significance for Mahimtura Folmsbee, since it is where she, and countless others, take the flight home to India.

Mahimtura Folmsbee works with marine scientists in the global community and sits on the Sanctuary Advisory Council for the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, as an advisory to the superintendent of the sanctuary through NOAA.

For more information about Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee, visit janavimfolmsbee.com.