Events & exhibitions
event • Lectures

Water Stories: Panel Discussions

Water Stories: Triveni Sangam, Allahabad (Prayagraj), India, Jan 3, 2023. Digital Image by Jinah Kim and Cara Buzzell.

The exhibition, Water Stories: River Goddesses, Ancestral Rites, and Climate Crisis, on view at Harvard Radcliffe Institute, illuminates the cultural, religious, and political significance of water—beyond an extractive commodity framework—and draws attention to the legacy of colonial rule and imperialism in the climate crisis. Water Stories presents new works from two contemporary women artists with other works drawn from the collections of the Harvard Art Museums and the Peabody Essex Museum. Together, the pieces tell stories of water experience that treat water, not as a resource to exploit, but as a life-giving and life-dissolving, inert but innately alive spiritual force—a notion shared widely among Indigenous communities, including those in the Global South, which is disproportionately affected by the climate crisis.

This program will bring together artists whose works are represented in the exhibition with scholars of religion, anthropology, and transnational studies to explore water’s multivalent meaning and to contemplate our current relationships with water. Participants will discuss traditional paintings depicting mythological stories along with contemporary works evoking different aesthetic and spiritual experiences of water in the age of climate crisis.

See companion website for the exhibition.

Harvard Radcliffe Institute gratefully acknowledges the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Endowment Fund for the Arts, which is supporting this exhibition.

Event Videos

Play video of Water Stories


  • Jinah Kim, Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; and George P. Bickford Professor of Indian and South Asian Art, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Panel 1: Artists’ Perspectives

  • Atul Bhalla, artist and professor of visual art, Department of Art and Performing Arts, Shiv Nadar University (India)
  • Alia Farid, artist and 2023–2024 David and Roberta Logie Fellow, Harvard Radcliffe Institute
  • Evelyn Rydz, artist
  • Moderator: Jinah Kim

Water Stories Thumbnail Panel2 Ks

Panel 2: Religion, Spirituality, Sacred Rivers, and the Climate Crisis

  • John Stratton Hawley, Claire Tow Professor of Religion, Barnard College, Columbia University
  • Tulasi Srinivas RI ’17, professor of anthropology, religion and transnational studies, Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts & Interdisciplinary Studies, Emerson College
  • Discussant: Atul Bhalla
  • Moderator: Jinah Kim

Close of Program

  • Jinah Kim

More Events & Exhibitions

01 / 04