Location: Houston , TX, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $331,000
Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee
Janavi Creative LLC
Curator of Airport/ Client
The Aquarius Art Tunnel is a 240-feet-long interdisciplinary immersive tunnel art Installation at IAH airport in the main International Terminal E/D. It consists of lenticulars, lighting, painting, original sound design, underwater photography, fine art mural-making techniques, custom carpeting, augmented reality, original sound and more.
A world of color roars with vibrancy off the coast of Galveston, Texas out in the Gulf. With the use of my abstract realism aesthetic, I have scientifically depicted this world to transform this space into what it feels like to be underwater in our Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, one of 15 U.S. Marine National Marine Sanctuaries. The title Aquarius comes from the constellation. The water bearer, as we are all connected through the night sky and constellations, it is what inspired the conceptualization of the installation. When the word is broken into three words “aqua” represents water. The letters “ri” inspire the hindi word “humari” which means “ours” and finally the last word is “us”. The title of the work represents “Water is ours and for all of us” and that we are globally connected through water, and our oceans on our planet is for all of us. The work touches on the conservational understanding of ‘One ocean’.
The goal of this commission was to transform a rather large mundane tunnel into an immersive passenger experience while reinforcing the sense of place for one of the largest airports in Texas. Viewers can walk through the threshold of text-based art where we have the word water written in multiple languages as a celebration universality. The augmented reality filter on Instagram with the artist’s abstract artwork created is inspired by the Halichoeres burekae, the Mardi Gras Wrasse fish, a fish that changes its gender and colors and can be considered “gender fluid”. This fish was discovered in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and till date can only be seen in this location. The Aquarius Art Tunnel is now the second possible location where you can experience what is like to dive under the waves with this species.
The work is educational, uplifting and truly transformative, it leaves visitors happy and often elated.
There are two unique 240 by 9 feet fine art murals. Everything was fire tested, and custom created. The hallway is approximately 20 feet wide, and currently covered with 700 yards of custom designed sea anemone and abstract inspired carpet design. There are 15 unique lenticular works of art in the ceiling, that have lighting components and three unique images in each lenticular work. A total of 116 custom handcrafted lighting fixtures of side lighting reflect light on quartz crystal pigment in the paint on the murals, 58 for each side of the tunnel. There is also a sound component and an augmented reality experience through an instagram filter. Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee estblished her studio in 2012 in Houston, Texas. The new JMF studio was built in 2020.
The JMF studio has an in house production team of four lead production assistants and ten studio assistants with rolling fabricators for large-scale public fine art production. Following fine art techniques and multidisciplinary practices.
The United Nations Decades of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (UNESCO) endorsed the Aquarius Art Tunnel as a site for its scientific and educational importance towards ocean conservation through artistic outreach as an immersive art installation; it has also been endorsed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Sanctuary in Galveston. The project was commissioned by the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs, on behalf of the Houston Airport System, through the city's Civic Art Program and the Houston Arts Alliance.