2,000 Souls: UNO art student work displayed at Eppley Airfield


Isaac Holt

Taken out of the streets and out of their cars and homes. Here one day and gone the next. Human trafficking may be a global issue, but it’s closer than we think.

Elisa Wolcott, a University of Nebraska at Omaha student, may believe she is an average art student, but her art project dedicated to preventing sex and human trafficking is anything but that and her story is to be heard.

When Wolcott was a sophomore in high school, she discovered art and would periodically use it as a healing process for her anorexia and depression. Her heart became more alive with each masterpiece she created. Wolcott began to be surrounded by older women that cherished and loved her unconditionally, resulting in a new healing physically and mentally for her.

After graduation from high school, Wolcott tried to leave Omaha to become a veterinarian.

However, her heart for art was something she couldn’t walk away from. Wolcott heard about UNO’s art programmed decided to stay and come to the university to pursue her Bachelor’s of Fine Art.

A major moment in Wolcott’s life was attending a three-week conference in Savannah, Georgia. At this conference she experienced healing in her heart, soul and body. Her Christian faith was revived and she knew there was a greater calling on her life.

Photo Courtesy of omaha.com
Photo Courtesy of omaha.com

Wolcott’s life was radically changed by an unconditional love that she wanted for all people. Classes at UNO had already began when Wolcott returned. In Wolcott’s sculpture class, a major project was due at the end of the semester and Wolcott was pressed for ideas.

Elisa finally met with her professor about her concerns with her project, and he suggested doing a project on human trafficking. After this meeting, Elisa started to do research on human trafficking in Nebraska. She found that in the past few years, 2 thousand people were forced into prostitution in the state.

“I started writing down ideas that came to mind,” Elisa said, “I thought of the idea of things hanging and birds, the idea of freedom through the release of birds.”

Elisa chose to hang the bird sculptures because she believed that freedom was best represented in the image of the birds flying.

Elisa turned her vision into a reality. In October, she began her project of sculpting 2 thousand birds and hanging them in the Eppley Airport. The sculptures are planned to be sold to raise money in order to build a safe house for people who are being exploited in the human trafficking industry. Her project started to gain media attention from the Omaha World-Herald, UNO and Fox 42.

On March 11, the birds will be installed in Eppley Airfield on the second floor in between the two terminals. They will be available for purchase through www.restored-wings.com.

Elisa has found healing in her own art and now she hopes her art can bring healing and refuge for those exploited victims of human trafficking


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