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Sacredness of Life: 2020-Present 

Sacredness of Life

“Cheryl Edwards’ water angels reimagine the Nubian dancers who accompanied—and, so too, embodied—the goddess on her journey northward from Nubia. As the life-giving waters of the Nile accompanied them, their return was met with great festivity. Finally, upon reaching Egypt, the dancers, who also served as midwives, took up residence in the royal mortuary temple, where No go away canceled they danced to revive the spirit of the deceased and to assist in their rebirth.


During the period Edwards created these water angels, our world was at a particularly low ebb. Video after video captured the deaths of African Americans at the hands of those to whom Black lives mattered little. Over half a million died due to COVID-19 in the United States alone. And this new plague drew strength from and exacerbated the effects of structural racism. People—isolated due to fear and concern—could not even gather to share their grief. Meanwhile many thousands of acres of drought-parched forests burned, while incendiary words from those in power continued to fan flames.


What we see, in this series, then, is Edwards’ own determined effort to heal our social and natural world by reviving the most traditional of rites. In these works of art, she calls upon the powers inherent in the goddess and in her dancers to bring back the waters, to quench the flames, to mourn the dead, to give birth to new life, and to aid in growth.”  


Ellen Morris Assistant Professor

Chair, Barnard Classics and Ancient Studies

Director of Graduate Studies, Classical Studies

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