Artist, writer and scuba diver Janavi M. Folmsbee uses her art prints and fabrics to tell a story about marine conservation.
Folmsbee is currently collaborating with stylist and creative guru Tina Zulu on a special project – Kimono Zulu, a fashion brand exploring the rich history of traditional Japanese attire.
The resulting work will be on display during the “12 x 3: Design Pop-Up” exhibit at Cindy Lisica Gallery, 4411 Montrose Blvd, 77006.
The gallery will be transformed into a design boutique for 12 days – open fromTuesday through Saturday, from .
A reception will be held fromon Saturday, Dec. 16.
“By reimagining kimonos through artist collaborations with creative talents such as Janavi, we are bringing new life to vintage kimonos in a playful, thoughtful and beautiful way,” Zulu said. “I’m honored and excited to see the final product because like Janavi, I love the ocean and sea life. The combination of our beautiful kimonos and her sea creatures will be magical. ”
Zulu asks artists who she admires and presents them with a kimono as their medium. Together they start a conversation about design and the artists take it from there to reimagine and embellish vintage kimonos, modernizing them to be enjoyed as unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art.
When Folmsbee learned about the project, she was immediately intrigued.
“Creativity is not limited to a particular medium,” she said. “I choose to paint, sculpt and wear art. It is a part of my identity.”
Having grown up in India and traveled throughout Asia, Folmsbee is drawn to colorful, traditional outfits – and has designed her own personal trousseau in collaboration with a brand called Sheetal in India.
“This year, I have been even more intrigued by Japanese art and culture,” Folmsbee said. “So somehow, this fascination made the kimono canvas turn into a very inspiring and fun project for me.”
Clothing has the power to tell a story, she added.
“Fashion and art can show your personality, your belief, your faith and your beauty,” she said. “I like a challenge. I have been creating custom printed fabrics from my paintings to create my sculptures. I decided to use them to amplify my story behind my artwork along with the embodiment of traditional Indian borders and embellishments.”
Folmsbee’s art is inspired by her love of the ocean and marine life – and she wanted to ensure that theme would carry into her kimonos.
She has spent the year traveling to six different countries for scuba dives – and learning about endangered marine animals.
“I decided that each kimono should represent a fish or species I am drawn to and care about from my visual and marine experiences,” she said.
Her “Koh Bon Kimono” is a tribute to her dive in Khao lak at a site called ‘Koh bon’ in the Similan islands located in Thailand, where she saw a rare tube ridged like sea anemone, housing several clown fish that were red but dying, turning brown, probably because of all the Coke cans at the bottom of the sea over there.
The “Whale Kimono” was inspired by learning about wright whales and her dives with a whale shark and a humpback whale.
The “Rangali Kimono” is an homage to the manta rays and the colors of all the fish swimming alongside them that Folsmbee witnessed during her dive at Madivaru Rangali in the Maldives.
In addition to Folmsbee, Kimono Zulu has featured a number of multimedia artists and fashion designers, including Selven O’Keef Jarmon, Katsola, Christy Karll, Rene Cruz, Elijah Coccetti, Dandee Warhol, Jennifer Gabiola of Dawning Soul, Royal McGee, Ann Brooks, Mina Gaber, Soi-K and Judy Masliyah of My Flaming Heart.