Dedication of “Keeping Tabs – A Holocaust Sculpture”- Pittsburgh PA

Sunday afternoon was the official dedication of the Gary and Nancy Tuckfelt  Keeping Tabs- A Holocaust Sculpture at the Community Day School at the corner of Beechwood Boulevard and Forward Ave.   The sculpture is a maze in the shape of the Star of David, created with glass blocks which are filled with six million pop tabs which took almost five years to collect , each tab representing a human life lost in the Holocaust.  Many people contributed time, money and effort to the creation of the sculpture and the  beautiful surrounding park.  Walking into the maze, one is struck by the magnitude of the horror of genocide, the number of victims is hard to fathom but the pop tabs in the glass blocks are a reminder of the millions killed.

The resident artist, Elena Hiatt Houlihan has been with this project since 2002.  Pop tabs were being collected since 1996 and Mr. Walter the History Teacher at Community Day School had aquariums filled with them when Elena arrived to help the student teams design the sculpture. Their original artist statement was read by her at the dedication ceremony today.

Elena had been a resident artist at Greenfield Elementary when I was the art teacher there and I remember her talking about the ongoing work of this sculpture and then funding and other circumstances delayed the completion.

It was a beautiful Autumn afternoon and there were speeches and prayers and an 8th grader played the violin.  A chill wind and shadows gave one a shudder and reminded those present of the significance of the memorial sculpture.   Never Forget.

Keeping Tabs Memorial (1)

I went up earlier in the day to photograph the memorial sculpture before all the people arrived.

Keeping Tabs2

Keeping Tabs close up


Violin Player

Bill WalterReceiving a standing ovation,  Mr. Walter comes to the podium to speakElena and Mr. WalterArtist in Residence Elena Hiatt Houlihan and  Social Studies Teacher Mr. Bill Walter who started the collection of the pop tabs when he was teaching the Holocaust to middle school students at Community Day School.

bill walter on Channel two

Elena and friends and family (1)

Article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the Keeping Tabs Memorial Sculpture Dedication, this time including Elena Hiatt Houlihan’s name

Keeping Tabs Memorial

One of the many many stones and bricks donated,
One of the many many, memorial stones and engraved bricks. each representing the accumulation of many donations, small, medium and large. I chose this one to photograph because for the inscribed words about “generations never born”- that message struck me.

Pop Tabs in Glass Blocks

filling the last blockThis block will be used for educational presentations.  I put a tab in and then asked the next woman if I might photograph her doing so and she agreed.

28 thoughts on “Dedication of “Keeping Tabs – A Holocaust Sculpture”- Pittsburgh PA

  1. A beautiful tribute and amazing concept of keeping tabs. I must visit this memorial sculpture. Thanks for your wonderful photos and bringing attention to this place.


  2. I am in Arizona but I would have been at the dedication. Yoni’s class is the class that started collecting tabs and all of the Reinfelds helped put them in the glass block. Thank you for taking the pictures and for being there.

  3. Hi Ruth, I am a friend of Sue’s. I am sorry that I wasn’t there and so especially thank you for the recollections including the beautiful photos. Two of our children were also part of the collecting process and had Mr. Walter as a teacher.

  4. Ruth! I am so glad you were able to join us yesterday and document the event and the Sculpture with your artist’s eye and beautiful words. This was a gift to the community by so many donors, children, staff members, and members of the community. The lead gift by the Tuckfelts made it possible, and individual and foundation donations added up to the needed support to build what you have pictured so beautifully here. Thank you.

  5. Thank You Ruth for this beautiful tribute,. Your photos are fantastic. Gary and I are very proud to be a part of this!
    Nancy and Gary Tuckfelt

  6. Such a sad moment too long in history. May all those killed rest in peace.
    What a beautiful tribute in their memories.
    Thanks you for sharing this with us.

  7. A most amazing and moving sculpture, Ruth. I’m sure that everyone’s hearts were so full of emotion at the dedication. We must never forget.

  8. I’m sure this was a moving ceremony, Ruth. The memorial is such a simple concept but so very effective. Thanks for informing us of the sculpture and for taking us to it dedication.

  9. I would love for you to take and post an ariel view of the memorial. I’m sure it would be an awsome site.

  10. These images are beautiful; though I will admit that the one with the close-up of the pop tabs almost made me cry. 6 million…. an unfathomable number – yet when I see the tiny pop tab, and realize that represents one human life, the magnitude almost overwhelms me.

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  13. I can only imagine what 6 million tiny tabs looks like walled up in this enormous maze. To think that each represents a human life lost due to unbridled hatred. Now consider just what 6 million human lives looks like in one place.

    Take a map of any major city in North America today, and cover up any portion that is going to support 6 million inhabinants. What does that map look like now? Such an enormous loss.

    It must never be forgotten. It must never happen again. The deepseated importance of why these sculptures and other works of art are created for public awareness must not be lost. They serve as valuable lessons.

    • Think you for taking time to write such a thoughtful comment in response to Keeping Tabs sculpture. Well put! We must never forget

  14. And the Jewish deaths are not the only ones from WWII. Many other ethnic groups were also objects of the state sponsored killing. The lesson for me: ALL homo sapiens are one species. We are NOT “races”. Indeed, all life is scared and must be valued above specific, individual preferences. So far, we have not discovered another place in the universe that has the conditions for life as we know it. We must preserve and cherish all living creatures. And in the current context, that includes olive trees and Palestinians. ALL life in the “Holy Lands” is sacred, indeed in all the earth!

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