Photo Metamorphosis
Home Up Project Background Photo Metamorphosis Participation Response About Jeffrey Schrier Workshop Description Related Works


Nearly thirteen million can tabs have been transformed into twenty thousand "feather-like" elements by over sixty thousand participants, to serve as a kind of raw material, or "clay", that Schrier configures into massive, sculptural works. Schrier then adapts the works to respond to the characteristics of exhibition venues. These image present a reverse chronology of the transformation of the can tab elements into his assemblage works. "Unfinished Flight", the most recent in the series, references lives destroyed by atrocities perpetrated through continuing acts of inhumanity.

UNFINISHED FLIGHT at Art at the Core

The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art

Peekskill NY, October 27, 2013 - December 7, 2014



Schrier, museum assistants and interns developing the 2013-2014 HVCCA installation


Jeffrey Schrier making adjustments to UNFINISHED FLIGHT at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art 






Senasqua Lodge, Croton Point Park

Croton on Hudson NY, Spring, 2013


UNFINISHED FLIGHT #1:  Prototype for first upright, elevated project installation. Documented in the artist's studio, and developed in response to the 70th Anniversary of  the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April 19 - May 16, 1943, the seminal act of Jewish resistance against the Nazi action to liquidate the ghetto.



The Katonah Museum of Art, Westchester County NY, May 1- June 26, 2005
Holocaust Memorial And Educational Center Of Nassau County, April 21- May 3, 2003
Loudoun County Virginia, May 29 - June 13, 2001
Holocaust Museum Houston, September 21 - November 18,  2000
Storing WINGS - Max Finkelstein - A Way Station Between Exhibits
The Brandeis-Bardin Institute, Simi Valley California,  August 2000
Senasqua Lodge, Croton Point Park, Croton-on-Hudson, New York
William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum, Atlanta Georgia, April-May 1999
Yeshiva University Museum,  Manhattan, September 1998 thru February 1999
Mahomet- Seymour Junior High School, Mahomet Illinois,  April 1998
Pop Tabs Collection, Mahomet-Seymour JHS, Mahomet Illinois, December 1996-May 1997 

The Katonah Museum of Art, Westchester County NY

May 1- June 26, 2005

Over a four day period, nearly 400 participants assisted in the on-site assembly 

of the five ton aluminum butterfly in the Sculpture Garden of the Katonah Museum of Art.

Under Schrier’s direction, Museum docents, staff and volunteers  sensitively guided students 

in placing waves of tab feathers, spreading WINGS of WITNESS into a masterful form.


The combined energy of hundreds of on-site helpers provided a metamorphosis 

that was fluid and uplifting, touching many who participated, deeply.


The forms, tones and textures of the asymmetrical masonry walls, ascending pines and 

gravel bed, provided a contemplative setting of tranquility for the restive work.

The cage-like braided wire figure woven with strands of soda tabs into the 

center of the wings, served as a catalyst for visitor response and inquiry.

On May 5, Yom HaShoah, the Museum and the Westchester Holocaust Education Center, staged a program involving Sel Hubert saved as a child through the Kindertransport, museum staff, teachers, student speakers and Mr. Schrier.  Eva Kor, survivor of  Mengele, who was a source of inspiration for the original soda tab collection, arrived from Terre Haute Indiana, and provided moving remarks at the close of the program:

     "In 1997 I received a phone call from Jeffrey Schrier telling me that he had the pop tabs and that he was going to create this sculpture called  WINGS OF WITNESS.  (As you can see from the WINGS spread before us), we have come a long way from those days. As I stand here and look at the glistening WINGS  OF WITNESS outside, I must tell you about RIPPLES.  When I lecture to students I talk about preventing hatred and prejudice, realizing that it is a difficult problem to solve, that even I, Eva Mozes Kor, survivor of hatred and prejudice, I am prejudiced, and I have to work at it.  To help us all deal with it, I will take you all on an imaginary trip. We are all going to carry a rock in our hands, stand on an imaginary bridge overlooking a very quiet, imaginary, lake. I throw in my rock, We see a ripple. All of you throw in your rocks, we will see ripple touching ripple.  
     If we realize that everything we do in our lives is like a ripple in the lake,  it touches the lives of many people. So all I have to think about is to treat my fellow human  beings  with fairness and respect, and judge them on their actions and content of their character, and we are making a difference in the world.   That is a lot easier for me and for all of you to deal with. The pop tabs collected in a small school in Illinois, many years ago, touched the lives of many people, and continue to touch the lives of people just like a ripple in the lake."

Spread in rippling layers of soda can tabs, WINGS of WITNESS remained on view through June 26, coordinated with an exhibition in an interior gallery, tracing the evolution of the project over its eight year development, through photography, works of art, and participant responses.

It is estimated that more than 10,000 students will still be needed to complete the transformation of the remaining tabs to feathers, thus enlarging the Butterfly until complete.

Holocaust Memorial And Educational Center of Nassau County

April 21 - May 3, 2003

The massive Wings of Witness Butterfly was spread in a meadow at the Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Nassau County, NY for a Yom HaShoah Commemoration April 29, 2003.

Aerial Photos: Courtesy, Holocaust Memorial Center of Nassau County County

Formally the Pratt estate, the Memorial Center is located in the Welwyn Preserve, 206 acres of parkland and hiking trails along Long Island's North Shore. 

The observance marked the dedication of the "Children's Memorial Garden," reconstructed in memory of the one and a half million Jewish Children, and all children destroyed by the Nazi regime in W. W. II.

Aerial Photos: Courtesy, Holocaust Memorial Center of Nassau County County

The restored gardens have been planted with flowers and shrubs that attract butterflies, a reference to the Pavel Friedmann poem, "The Butterfly," which also served as inspiration in artist Jeffrey Schrier's development of the WINGS of WITNESS project.

Aerial Photos: Courtesy, Holocaust Memorial Center of Nassau County County

Under the direction of Schrier, assisted by Yonatan Koch, volunteers carefully placed feathers into the developing mass, until the form emerged: a four ton butterfly of aluminum wings, resembling the rippling waves along the nearby Long Island Sound Shore.

Photo: Daniel Theodore

At the Nassau County site, the Wings At Welwyn butterfly contained more than six million soda can tabs, laid out in over 10,000 feather structures by nearly 600 dedicated volunteers, mostly students, to form the sculpture in progress.

Photo: Daniel Theodore


Volunteers from the Lycee Francais de NY, Manhattan, Gorton High School, Yonkers, NY, Nassau County's Grand Avenue, Jericho, and Roslyn Middle Schools,  Harbour Hill and East Hills Schools, were bussed to the site and joined by many other volunteers. 

Photo: Daniel Theodore


In the months preceding the installation, several thousand area youth made feathers that were unpacked an added into those already constructed by over 30,000 participants across the country.

Photo: Daniel Theodore

As Jeffrey made final adjustments to the sea of tabs, a brilliant red tab demanded his attention. Its startling presence evoked the recollection of a letter sent to Kevin Daugherty, Mahomet Illinois teacher, who with his students, amassed the tab collection project 6 years earlier.  The tab contributor wrote: “I have enclosed 2,038 tabs. I thought it interesting that I came across only one red tab. It reminded me of the beautiful little girl in the red coat, which was the only spot of color in the brilliant black and white film, “Schindler's List.”


Photo: Daniel Theodore


Loudoun County Virginia

 May 29 - June 13, 2001

On Memorial Day 2001, approximately 10,000 soda tab feathers made  for WINGS OF WITNESS by 22,000 participants across the country during four years, were shipped to Loudoun County Virginia. During it's presentation there, nearly two thousand students, community members, church and synagogue  congregants, joined to build  additional  feathers for the memorial sculpture.  Many dedicated volunteers helped assemble the massive work-in-progress in a meadow at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg Va.

Photo: Linda Holtslander, Loudoun County Public Library

At the opening day program, Leesburg resident Liane Sowa told of her memories etched in fear, as a seven year old Jewish child in Stuttgart, November 8-9, 1938, Krystallnacht.  The glass of a restaurant she was in shattered before her, with the future. Rocks and stones thrown by Nazi gangs signaled the massive pogrom, a government supported wave of terror and destruction that became the Holocaust.

Leesburg  Mayor B.J. Webb spoke, "This marvelous sculpture, WINGS OF WITNESS...represents those whose lives were lost during the Holocaust...How can we honor those who lost their lives and suffered at the hands of the Nazis today? By striving to accept one another and to reach out to those in need not after their country and community has been scarred by war, but before - when the first words of intolerance are uttered - we ask that the intolerant words be stopped. If we can learn to stop the intolerant words perhaps we can stop the intolerant behavior."    The Speakers Bureau of The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, provided Nesse Godin as the keynote speaker  to commemorate the installation.  With eloquence and deep emotion, Nesse related her struggles surviving a ghetto in Lithuania and the Stuffhof Concentration Camp.

Photo: Sarah Huntington, Loundon County Public Library

Nesse held up a photo of her in tact family, taken prior to the Nazi destruction. She vividly recalled the voices of the imprisoned women around her who did not survive, " If you live, don't let us be forgotten."  The massive 100 foot butterfly of nearly six million tabs representing destroyed innocent lives, glistened in the Leesburg meadow through June 13. Work on the sculpture will continue until all 11 million tabs are included.

Aerial Photo, courtesy Loudoun County Library

The Virginia programs were coordinated by the Loudoun County Public Library through The Irwin Uran Gift Fund, provided to the Library System for programs that educate about the Holocaust. The Irwin Uran Gift Fund was created through the generosity of Mr. Irwin Uran, who was a liberator of the Dachau Concentration Camp at the end of WWII.  Library staff and community volunteers dedicated unending energy and resources, to insure the success of the program and installation.

Photo: Linda Holtslander, LCPL

Holocaust Museum Houston

September 21 - November 18, 2000

During the week of the exhibition opening at HMH, Schrier worked with nearly 2000 participants consisting of museum staff, community members and school groups.  Subsequently, museum docents trained by Schrier ran workshops with nearly 3,600 area youth during exhibition run.

Houston Area Teens Unpack Soda Can Feathers 

Photo: Amy Duke


Students Make Feather Tracings and Place Feathers      Placing The Central Cage-Like Figure Onto WINGS


Photos: Amy Duke

Photo: Jesse De Martino for Holocaust Museum Houston

Storing WINGS

While not on exhibit, WINGS tabs and soda tab feathers are stored at Max Finkelstein, Inc., through their generosity. 

The crew at Max Finkelstein, Inc., with the cartons filled with feathers on massive pallets, ready for shipment to Houston

The Brandeis-Bardin Institute, Simi Valley California

August 2000

Photo: Jeanne Nesselroth-Schrier

As  Wings of Witness grew in proportion to contain nearly six-million of the 11 million tabs collected, the Brandeis-Bardin Institute provided a mountain slope for the first outdoor presentation of the work, which spanned an 85 X 40 foot area.

"Like an insect emerging from cocoon, the glistening sculpture of a butterfly has arisen on a Simi Valley hillside,  memorializing the 11 million people killed in the Holocaust. Wings of Witness", a sculpture composed of  the pull tabs of 11 million aluminum cans, was assembled this summer by counselors-in-training, their advisors, and staff at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute." (Daily News, Saturday, August 5,  2000, by Krystn Shrieve Simi Valley, California)

Artist Jeffrey Schrier comments on his experience, directing the assembly of the work at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute:

"This project which embodies such overwhelming sadness and tragedy about our history, was tempered by the enormous commitment of the young helpers here.  Their commitment transforms this statement of loss and tragedy, into one of hope. It has  been an extraordinary experience for me, to have the help of so many, pushing on to insure the assembly of the work, even in the 110 degree desert heat.

Counselors in training, advisors and staff worked into the late hours at night,   creating massive plastic drop cloths with drawing indications of where the over 8,000  feathers of tabs,   would be placed. 

In the morning  as  we ascended the slope, a cool breeze escalated into a strong westward wind,   and as we began to unfold the drop cloths, the air currents lifted them and opened them westward with only our minimal effort. Reflecting on the earliest symbolic use of rocks as a marker memorial to a lost loved one, we elected to stabilize the butterfly with  hundreds of perfectly smooth melon size rocks delivered to the site by grounds crew who had so diligently prepared the land earlier.

Photo: Debbie Becker

"I am enormously  grateful to the Brandies-Bardin staff and assisting sculptor Wilfredo Morel for their tireless help and camaraderie in the complicated and demanding assembly of the work.

As part of our stint there, the Brandeis-Bardin Institute arranged resdencies for us at the East LA atelier, " Self Help Graphics." This experience afforded Wilfredo and I the opportunity of  creating art in settings related to each of our heritage. A selection of the silk screen prints we produced were donated as a fundraiser.  Self Help Graphics is a Latino grass roots organization originally developed to supply a route of expression for emerging young artists of  the Chicano community. After the exhilarating experience of creating a body of work there, we returned to the Brandeis-Bardin Institute where enormously dedicated helpers remained on the slope with us, until the winged formation was complete.

Wilfredo and I reassembled the central figure-like form we had constructed in my summer studio, and set the  tightly braided wire form into the center of the butterfly.

Sculptor Wilfredo Morel assists Schrier in building a central figure 

by wrapping braided aluminum wire around mannequin forms

Photo: Jeanne Nesselroth-Schrier


Photo: Debbie Becker


The human lifelike form communicating the symbolism of lost life, replaced a previously insect body shape that had been made from soda can tabs. It was made by braiding and twisting aluminum wire around female and male mannequins, removing and then joining the forms from both, so that the work would be egalitarian in its representation.   By wrapping and twisting the wire to create a life like form that actually is filled only with empty space, the presence of a figure is suggested, but in fact the wire itself is not a figure.   It may suggest entrapment, like barbed wire.   It may suggest the absence, or to some, the presence of a human soul. It suggests life, lost life, or lives not to be lost again. It is a life like form that reminds us that each of the tiny tabs represents a loss and also the potential future generations that may have emanated from that lost life.


Photo: Yoni Boujo, taken from a helicopter

After its presentation on the desert slope at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, the massive butterfly was disassembled and prepared for its transfer to Holocaust Museum Houston.

Senasqua Lodge, Croton Point Park,Croton-on-Hudson, New York

Prior to shipping WINGS to California, Croton Point Park provided Senasqua Lodge to spread out plastic drop cloths to make drawings for feather placement.



William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum, Atlanta Georgia

April-May 1999

In Atlanta, at the The Bremen, WINGS contained one and a half million tabs, representing the number of children who were tragically murdered during the Holocaust. A photo exhibit and Schrier's related works accompanied the 36 foot butterfly in the main museum  gallery.  Through the opening week, which coordinated with Yom HaShoah, hundreds of area students came to build feathers with Schrier, assisted by the knowledgeable and skilled museum staff and docents.

In Atlanta the butterfly contained one and a half million tabs, reflecting,

 tragically, the number of Jewish Children murdered by the Nazis

Photo: Courtesy, William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum, Atlanta

Yeshiva University Museum,  Manhattan

September 1998 thru February 1999

The Yeshiva University Museum in Manhattan presented the first full museum exhibition of WINGS. This included  a series of photos documenting the workshops in which students build "feathers", as well as photos of students assembling the sculpture. Also shown were  youth poems and artwork in response, letters from contributors of tabs, Schrier's early preparatory work,  and other of his Holocaust related works that predated the WINGS project. Hundreds of area students who had built feathers at their respective schools, came to both install and disassemble the WINGS at the Museum.

Students of the Holy Name School, New Rochelle NY help place feathers into WINGS, 

for it's first presentation in the form of a butterfly

Photo: courtesy Yeshiva University Museum, Manhattan

Mahomet- Seymour Junior High School, Mahomet Illinois  

April 1998

When one million of the tabs had been transformed into "feathers" for WINGS, Schrier brought the project to the school that originated the collection, for it's first exhibition. The students that collected the tabs then were able to both build feathers, and construct the first exhibit with Schrier. Other area schools and organizations participated and supported the project. The public presentation was during the week that Yom HaShoah was commemorated (Holocaust Remembrance Day).

Photo: Janet Probst

Pop Tab Collection 
Mahomet-Seymour JHS

Dec 1996- May 1997

A single shopping bag contained about 22,000 tabs, the number that is representative 

of the amount of people murdered in one day by the Nazi's at the height of their systematic extermination

Photo: Phil Greer, Chicago Tribune


Over a 5 month period, students collected  11 million tabs 

that were sent from all 50 states and 8 countries 

Photo:Jane Probst


At a Yom HaShoah commemoration in the 

Mahomet-Seymour JHS, students spilled 6 million tabs, 

surrounding them with bags containing the remaining 5 million

Photo: Steve Smedley, The Pantagraph