Bark Painting

Associated Smithsonian Expert: Adrienne L. Kaeppler, Ph.D.

Dr. Adrienne Kaeppler

Image Courtesy of Adrienne Kaeppler

Dr. Adrienne Kaeppler is the Curator of Oceanic Ethnology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Her research focuses on the interrelationships between social structure and the arts, including dance, music, poetry, and the visual arts. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and received her bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Hawai`i. She has written extensively on Tongan and Hawaiian dance and the work of the explorer James Cook. She is president of the International Council for Traditional Music and in 2010 received the Smithsonian Secretary's Distinguished Research Lecture Award for her work with the museum and Smithsonian Institution.

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This image was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution. The image or its contents may be protected by international copyright laws.

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Baule woodcarvers at work, Yagolikro village, Ivory Coast
Photograph by Eliot Elisofon, 1972. Image no. EEPA EECL 6900. Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution

About Humans and the Environment

Humans have always manipulated their environment, whether by acquiring food, making and using tools, or other aspects of daily life. They are constantly interacting with their environment on a daily basis. By using the available materials, humans have created shelter, made tools, created containers and vessels, and produced items of personal and cultural significance. Many of these resources are naturally occurring, such as stones, minerals, animal bones, or organic fibers from plants, while others are made from combining materials. The process of acquiring these materials and the manufacturing process can be traditional practices that are passed down from one generation to another. Because materials are unique to the location of different communities and cultures, by studying the types of materials, as well as animal remains found and the processes used to manipulate them, anthropologists and researchers can learn about the daily activities and lifestyles of the cultures they are studying. In what ways do you interact with your environment on a daily basis?