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An Ocean of Inspiration: Artist Panel Event
Part of Ocean Discovery League's 2023 Ocean Art Festival
November 29, 2023
7:00 - 8:00pm ET
Virtual Live Event
Admission: FREE (Suggested Donation)

Join us as Katy Croff Bell hosts a virtual live panel featuring four renowned artists whose work is inspired by the ocean. 


  • Rebecca Rutstein, renowned for her innovative and thought-provoking marine-inspired artwork.

  • Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee, award-winning marine conservationist artist.

  • George Nuku, a leading contemporary Māori artist with a deep connection to oceanic heritage.

  • Michel Droge, a painter and printmaker whose practice includes collaborative engagement with scientific researchers, translating complex oceanography into compelling visual narratives. 

Together, they will share their artistic journeys and thoughts on the interplay between art and science in ocean exploration. 

About the Artists
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Michel Droge

Michel Droge is a painter and printmaker whose work engages with the environment and ideas of multi-species, non-binary, and entangled life systems. The ocean has been a primary source of study and inspiration and is a foundational element of their practice. Their paintings, prints, and multi-media collaborations are inspired by environmental research, poetry, and exploration of remote locations Michel’s practice includes collaborative engagement with scientific researchers, conservation groups, and communities. This year, Michel worked with the Schmidt Ocean Institute as an Artist-At-Sea program with a science expedition aboard the Falkor (too) off the coast of Costa Rica’s Dorado Outrcrop, dubbed the “Octopus Odyssey.”

Michel Droge
Janavi Folmsbee

Janavi Folmsbee

Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee, Indian-born and raised contemporary artist, is globally renowned for her dedication to marine conservation through art. Her award winning portfolio has graced prestigious international art fairs, print media, and television, including Kunst Rai, Art Rotterdam, The Indian Contemporary Art Fair, and featured in Harper's Bazaar (Malaysia edition), The Times of India, and the Houston Chronicle.

2023 Codaworx award winner, Mahimtura Folmsbee employs various media to create interactive public art installations that are both educational and uplifting. Her work showcases intricate, ethereal shapes referred to as characters, drawing the public into immersive experiences. She firmly believes in the power of art to heal oceans and facilitate scientific communication. Folmsbee's noteworthy achievements include being the first South Asian/Indian woman artist in the Houston Airports art collection, with her 240-foot-long ocean art tunnel installation. She has collaborated with diverse marine organizations to amplify their missions and has created extensive fine art murals across Houston, some of which are discoverable on Google Earth.

George Nuku
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George Tamihana Nuku

George Nuku is a leading contemporary Māori artist and environmental activist. He hails from the Ngāti Kahungunu tribe of the Hawkes Bay region of the North Island of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Nuku’s installations are site-specific and inclusive, created in a spirit of collaboration, innovation and exchange.

His current exhibition, Changing Oceans: Changing Minds was an island-wide Community Art Project exploring our changing oceans and changing identities due to the proliferation of single-use plastics in our modern world. The project aimed to create a symbolic representation of the island of Hawai`i, surrounded by plastic, marine life, and sea birds. The participatory aspect of his work allows for an interconnectedness with the participants, materials, and their environment. Nuku feels that if we value our creations, we are less likely to discard them, thus leaving our environments -including the ocean- healthier and more valued.

Rebecca Rutstein
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Rebecca Rutstein

Rebecca Rutstein is a multidisciplinary artist with a unique focus on the convergence of art, science, and technology. For over two decades, she has crafted a diverse body of work, spanning painting, sculpture, interactive installations, and public art, all inspired by the natural world. 


Rutstein's deep connection to the ocean is rooted in her extensive experience as an artist-in-residence including two deep-sea dives to the ocean floor in the Alvin submersible. Her collaborations with a range of experts, have given her a unique perspective and broad view of the interconnectedness of systems in the natural world. 


Through visual and immersive experiences, her work sheds light on the places and processes that are often hidden from view, to foster a deeper connection with nature, and inspire wonder, empathy, and stewardship in the face of our climate crisis.

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