Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   




Airport Art Educates Travelers
About the World Beneath Texas 

A wall of wildlife portraits at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport teaches an environmental lesson to travelers. The Central Texas city and its neighbors sit atop a subterranean system of karst limestone that forms aquifers and caves, home to unique (and often endangered) creatures.

Partnering in the presentation are Austin Water Wildlands Conservation, which manages lands to protect the water that recharges the Edwards Aquifer, and the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan, which protects eight endangered species.

These cave-dwelling animals have been on a long evolutionary journey, unfazed by the happenings above them, with adaptations that make them look like science fiction inventions.

Nico Hauwert, Balcones Canyonlands Preserve Program manager, came up with the idea for the exhibit to inspire residents and visitors to preserve these caves and their special inhabitants. Hauwert enlisted wildlife artist Barbara Attwell to paint these tiny, charismatic creatures on huge canvases to catch the attention of visitors passing time before their flight. One subject is the pseudoscorpion: only the size of a pencil eraser and it’s transparent, blind, hairy and stinger-less.

Hauwert and Attwell say they’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from those who’ve discovered the paintings. They hope these creatures will become as popular as Austin’s famous bats. Find the unique display in the departure terminal near Gate 11 this summer.  

 TPWD STAFF   Barbara Attwell

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