Elisa Wolcott didn’t know what to expect when she set her first birds on fire.

There were around 100 in that initial batch into the kiln. Wolcott, a University of Nebraska at Omaha art major, had made the casts using skills learned during her first ceramics class last summer. Now she was pulling the first set from the fire, and what she saw surprised her. The birds were even more precious than she’d imagined. Vulnerable and fragile, yet elegant and beautiful.

Many more followed. Over the past three months, Wolcott has cast, fired and sanded 2,000 ceramic birds in order to raise awareness about sex trafficking in Nebraska.

Her project, “2000 Souls,” is meant to represent the number of women across the state who have been forced into prostitution.

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