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Central Asian artists recycle flotsam for a good purpose

By Graham Hill

Sand dances with the wind as a young couple stroll across the crowded beach. Urbanites, desiring to escape the concrete confines of the big city, come just one hour’s drive to reclaim a moment of quiet from constant traffic noise.

Yet, the trappings of relentless human development invade even this remote beach in Central Asia. The tide has brought in a fresh crop. Stepping over discarded plastic bottles and trash is the very reason why Edward Graph* and his fellow artists come to this place.

They come to reclaim. They come to make a statement. Graph recycles refuse to illustrate redemption and hope.

Picking among the piles of debris, these creative beachcombers spend the day building sculptures out of washed-up trash. “The goal is to show that we as sinners are capable of being forgiven and transformed into something powerful,” Graph explains.

“Waste is sometimes a subjective concept, because items that some people discard may have value to others,” notes Graph. And all too often, issues are the same when discussing matters of the heart and human soul.

Central Asians have a unique spiritual life. From a very early age they are taught the importance of having a relationship with God. They are all hungry for truth. And they strive to know God but often never find Him.

“I am intentionally creating art with a bit of mystery so that people are drawn to it and want to have an explanation,” Graph explains. He believes forming art with meaning transcends cultural barriers and reaches across social borders.

The artist passionately pursues a unique and personal relationship with God in the same way one person might relate to another. “I am encouraged by the fact that if you look at Jesus’ life, you find Him associating with people that this world said were sinners and were terrible people.” Jesus proclaimed His purpose to reclaim the discarded.

Why do the best stories always weave a persistent thread of redemption?

Why must our hearts always seem touched by this common thread?

Could it be that at the deepest level of our soul, we all connect with a need to be reclaimed.

As artists devotedly sort through the bits and pieces of flotsam scattered randomly across the shoreline, a metamorphosis of new sculptures slowly take form.

With the sun’s retreating rays, these beachcombers send a message of hope that rises above discarded human rubble cast aside by the shifting sands of brokenness.

The Truth of Jesus offers to reclaim discarded souls turning them into something beautiful and something good.

*Name changed

Graham Hill is a visual storyteller/photographer/writer based in Central Asia