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