Material Nature

Gallery 281

All of the objects in this gallery were made from plants and animals. Most, including elephants, beavers, hawksbill sea turtles, and ebony trees, were abundant when the objects were made but are now scarce or even threatened with extinction. This installation documents how this happened, the consumer choices that—one object after another—add up to unsustainability.

Alongside these objects are some sustainable alternatives—a bamboo vest, a bowl made from found local wood, a recycled silk shawl—demonstrating that consumption does not have to mean devastation.

How will the choices we make today impact tomorrow’s natural world?

Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers, Head of the Department of Arts of Africa and the Americas/Curator of African Art

Jennifer Komar Olivarez, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design

Nicole LaBouff, Assistant Curator of Textiles