Jonnalagadda Niranjan traces his family's association with the kalamkari tradition of Srikalahasti, Andhra Pradesh, to the 15th century when intricately hand-painted chintz textiles were produced for the European market. His lineage is illustrious - the works of his family atelier are featured in collections at renowned museums around the world. His grandfather, Jonnalagadda Lakshmaiah, was the first instructor at the kalamkari training institute established by the All India Handicrafts Board in Srikalahasti in 1958, and his father, Gurappa Chetty was the first master craftsman to receive a national award for kalamkari.
Niranjan received his initial training in kalamkari from his father, learning as in the conventional apprenticeship format by assisting his father as he worked. He chose to study vegetable dyes in greater detail at the regional design and technical development centre, Bengaluru, and later, to work with ICEF (India Canada Environment Facilities) to promote awareness about natural dyes through workshops and demonstrations both in India and abroad. He received the state award for kalamkari in 1997 and the Shilpjan award in 2002.
Niranjan says about his subject, "The Tree of Life is an auspicious symbol and I hope it will bring good health, wealth and harmony to all those who will see at the airport. More importantly, however, the Tree of Life carries a socially pertinent message. A mythical symbol of the interdependence of all life forms, it is more relevant than ever in today's context when human behavior has led to dramatic environmental change. I hope the installation will prompt viewers to recognize, and act on, the need to protect the environment for our future generations."