Beer Can Butterflies

It is amazing to me what art people can see in the most mundane things. Artist Paul Villinski takes something that has been literally thrown away, crushed beer cans on the streets of New York City, and creates beautiful sculpted butterflies. Not only does he create these small, delicate creations from trash, but he incorporates flocks of them into his artwork; combining their gentle beauty with other found objects and everyday items. His artwork is both unique and eye-opening, not because of the objects he uses, but for the way he combines trash into something so beautiful.

Passage – Created using wood from a police line barrier, this airplane frame is covered with tiny blue painted aluminum butterflies created from discarded beer cans.


Fable – This piece centers around a cello. A hole has been burned in one side from which soot-covered butterflies emerge and rise to swirl around above the instrument.

Rise – Another piece that centers on a burnt instrument. This time the instrument is an electric guitar with one edge burn away. Soot covered butterflies twist across and up around the neck of the guitar.

Landscape – This is one of my favorites for the sheer simplicity. Created using wood reclaimed from a police barrier, the beer can butterflies have been left unpainted and flutter around the edges of the weather-beaten frame. I love the contrast of the blue and white frame with the black and white lettering, silver tint, and occasional stripe of red on the butterflies.


Wreath – This piece was created using a tank driver’s helmet. The cobalt blue painted butterflies surround the helmet like a wreath, hence the name.


Vessel (For Amelia) – An Air Force flight suit is the center of this piece. A cluster of cobalt blue butterflies emerge from the chest and two of them start to fly off into the distance.


Idyll – A French painter’s easel is home to a flock of blue butterflies that scatter across the legs, the center, and gather at the top.


Marker – A glider instrument panel is set to the far right as a perfect circle of blue painted butterflies move to the left.


Yes and Wish – Another one of my favorites, the English words yes and wish are spelled out in cursive by blue painted butterflies. So pretty!

yes and wish

Airlift – This one is so cute! A gold-leafed butterfly lifts a tiny wooden chair by a crimson thread.


These are just a few of the pieces that Paul Villinski has completed. If you want to see more of his work, visit his website at: He also has artwork with butterflies and birds created using vinyl records and gloves.

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