Cadence Enterprise

Artist Janavi M. Folmsbee brings the ocean to the world of kimonos: Folmsbee’s uses her interdisciplinary art practice to collaborate with Kimono Zulu

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 from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, from Tuesday, Dec. 12 to Saturday, Dec. 23.


A reception will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on 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 right 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.

For more information, visit and follow on Instagram @KimonoZulu.

For more information about Janavi M. Folmsbee, visit



About Janavi M Folmsbee

Artist, writer and scuba diver Janavi M. Folmsbee has moved between countries and cities, propelled on a hunt to find her own space in this world. When diving into the ocean, she feels the closet to home. Born in Mumbai, India, she moved to the U.S. in 2005 and received her bachelor of fine arts from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. She has since shown her work around the globe -- in India, Beijing, Europe and the U.S. Her art has been featured in international fairs like Kunst Rai and Art Rotterdam and in articles in print media such as “Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia edition),” “The Times of India,” “Verve INDIA” and “Houston Modern Luxury.” Folmsbee currently lives and works in Houston. She has joined with various conservation organizations, including the Galveston Bay Foundation and, to help by practicing marine conservation through art. Folmsbee’s works are often site specific, and she loves to create art for a space. Visit “Rail to the Sea” off Sawyer St. to view one of the five murals that Folmsbee has in the city of Houston. For more information, visit